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The Maple Leaf Rag

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Mapleleaf Man

United States

March 15, 2012

I was watching a Chinese movie this evening on Toronto television. It was Marriage to a Liar with Chrissie Chau and some other famous actors. Near the end there was a commercial that tried to explain 'break a leg', an English idiom. The explanation was totally wrong! I couldn't believe it. Here is the real explanation. 

A long time ago, maybe 100 years or so, someone wished an actor or actress 'Good Luck!' before they went on stage to act in a play. In that play, the actor who had received the 'good luck' wish, broke her leg. Wow! What kind of luck is that?

Now, whenever someone is going to go onstage to act or sing, we say, "Break a leg!" to them. Instead of wishing them good luck, we say, "Break a leg" which is the opposite of what we really mean. Get it? You will hear 'break a leg' many times in your life. You will hear it in movies, on TV and in real life. Now you know what it means. 

We don't use it all the time. I use it only when someone is going to act or sing or do something in front of a lot of people. It's not something you say to someone who is leaving on a trip, for instance. You would wish them good luck or bon voyage, not 'break a leg'. If someone is about to give a speech or a presentation in front of an audience, that is the time you would say, "Break a leg!"

Thanks for reading!

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