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Close but no cigar

adverb phrase

Very nearly correct; not quite the thing: One package, that was acceptable. Too many amounted to her idea of close-but-no-cigar/ If you answered George Lucas’ Star Wars you’re close, but no cigar

[1970s+; fr carnival feats where one gets a cigar as a prize]
A narrowly missed success, as in That ball was definitely out—close but no cigar. This interjection alludes to awarding a cigar to the winner of some competition, such as hitting a target. [ ; early 1900s ]


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  • Close-communion

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