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What do “close, but no cigar” & 3 other sayings mean?

By Mariana Heredia
What do “close, but no cigar” & 3 other sayings mean?

Stogies have influenced our lifestyle and the way we speak. Without even noticing, cigars have become part of political speeches, sayings, and expressions- some of which we still use today. Former vice-president Marshall once said, “What this country needs is a five-cent cigar”. Heck, even I’d want a stogie at that price. You’ve probably heard these phrases before: “close but no cigar”, and “a woman is just a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke” – but what’s the meaning? Let’s take a look at how these and other cigar sayings have become a part of our vocab. Bonus see if you can spot a phone in the cigar picture.

What does “Close, but no cigar” mean? What are other cigar sayings?

“Close, but no cigar”

This phrase refers to the making of an attempt but failing. Its origins were back in the 1920s when carnivals would hand out cigars as prizes. These games were obviously targeted at adults and not children. Carnival games were very difficult to win and the stand owner would simply shout the phrase when the player miserably failed to win. Hence no cigar as a reward. With time carnivals began to move and travel around the USA and so did the saying. Nowadays stuffed animals have replaced cigars as prizes but not the phrase.

“A woman is just a woman, but a good cigar is a smoke

Often taken out of context this phrase can be misunderstood but after reading the poem the meaning is completely different. The author, Rudyard Kipling, simply narrated a story about the proceedings of a divorce trial. The stanza states how the wife, Maggie, asked this question to his husband. Offering to choose between herself or a stogie. With a tuff decision, this was his only response.

“Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar”

This one is actually quite simple. There’s no need to include or say much about this phrase. It seems strange coming from someone like Sigmund Freud who was a psychoanalyst and overthinker. It’s believed that this was Freud’s response to a couple of unknown authors who criticized his work. Another approach to the quote would be taking the easy or most obvious path to life.

“What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar”

Even though there are various sides to the story behind this phrase the most common is the following. During a long speech made by former Kansas Senator, Joseph Bristow, he repeatedly mentions “what this country needs-“. This caused mockery on behalf of the vice-president, Thomas Marshall, to lean and whisper to one of the clerks of the senate “Bristow hasn’t hit it yet. What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar.” It was then printed in every newspaper in the USA and the vice-president received many products from puro makers.
what this country needs is a good five cent cigar

Bonus head-scratcher

After all this knowledge, let’s take a look at this optical illusion. Without cheating try and find where the phone is in the picture full of cigars.

where is the phone in the cigar picture

Now you know the meaning of “Close, but no cigar” and other sayings. If you wish to learn more about cigars or more cigar sayings sign up for our newsletter and pay close attention to exclusive deals. Reach out to Cigar Country via their live chat or contact form.