Where Did The Saying Break A Leg Come From

The latest information about Where Did The Saying Break A Leg Come From that you need can be found in this article, all of which we have summarized well.

Why Break a leg? Meaning and Origins of Break a Leg

Breaking a Leg: The Origin of a Theatrical Tradition

Before stepping on stage, actors often wish each other luck by saying, “Break a leg!” But where did this peculiar phrase originate? It’s a fascinating tale that has captivated the imaginations of thespians and theatre enthusiasts alike.

Good Luck, Bad Luck?

The phrase “break a leg” may seem counterintuitive. After all, a broken leg hardly seems auspicious for a performer. Yet, this phrase has been used for centuries to wish actors well before their performances. The paradox lies in the fact that a “leg” in this context refers to a bow, not a limb.

During the Elizabethan era, actors took their final bows on one leg. They would gracefully bend one knee while extending the other, a form of reverence that was considered an elegant farewell. The more bows an actor took, the more successful their performance. Thus, “breaking a leg” became a theatrical blessing, wishing the actors a multitude of bows and, by extension, a favorable reception.

A Gesture of Respect

In addition to its symbolic meaning, “breaking a leg” also served as a practical gesture of goodwill. In the days before electricity, theatres were lit by candles. Stage actors often wore bulky costumes that could easily catch fire. A deep bow could knock over a candle, putting the entire theatre at risk. By wishing each other “break a leg,” actors showed respect for their colleagues’ safety. A broken leg, in this sense, meant a safe and successful performance.

Evolution of the Phrase

As theatre evolved, the practical aspects of “breaking a leg” diminished. However, the phrase persisted, becoming a tradition and a sign of camaraderie among actors. Over time, the meaning of the phrase expanded to encompass not just a successful performance but also good fortune in general. Today, “break a leg” is used not only in theatre but also in other performance contexts and in everyday life as a way to wish someone luck.

Current Trends

In the modern theatre world, the phrase “break a leg” continues to be used widely. Actors, directors, and stage crews alike embrace this tradition as a way to connect with their theatrical heritage and to build a sense of community. Some have even playfully changed the phrase to “break a mic” for performances that use microphones.

Tips for Using the Phrase

When using the phrase “break a leg,” it’s important to be mindful of the context and the person you are addressing. While it is generally a positive and well-received expression, it may not always be appropriate in certain situations. For example, it would be inappropriate to use “break a leg” when someone is actually injured or in a situation where a real accident could occur.

Expert Advice

Theatre professionals recommend using “break a leg” sparingly, as it should be a special and meaningful wish. When you do use it, make sure to say it with sincerity and enthusiasm. A genuine expression of support is more likely to be well-received than a rote or insincere greeting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When is it appropriate to say “break a leg”?
A: The phrase is typically used before a performance, whether it be a play, concert, or other stage production.

Q: Can I use “break a leg” outside of a theatrical context?
A: Yes, the phrase has evolved to encompass good fortune in general, so it can be used in various situations.

Q: Is it okay to say “break a mic”?
A: While some people have playfully adopted this variation for performances using microphones, it is not as widely recognized as the original phrase.

Q: What should I do if someone says “break a leg” to me?
A: Thank the person for their well wishes and return the gesture by saying something like, “Likewise!” or “Thank you for the good vibes.”


The phrase “break a leg” is a unique and enduring tradition in the world of theatre. From its origins in Elizabethan bows to its modern-day usage, this expression has served as a symbol of good luck, respect, and camaraderie among performers. Whether you are an actor preparing for a performance or simply wishing someone well, using the phrase “break a leg” is a way to connect with the rich history of live theatre and to convey your support for the performers.

Do you have any questions or thoughts about the fascinating origin of the phrase ‘break a leg’?

Break a Leg: Image Gallery (Sorted by Comments) (List View) | Know Your ...
Image: knowyourmeme.com

Thank you for visiting our website and taking the time to read Where Did The Saying Break A Leg Come From. We hope you find benefits from this article.

Leave a Comment