You have a wedding speech to prepare. I'd better get going. Break a leg, John.

What does 'break a leg' mean?

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It may seem odd but it's a way of wishing someone good luck - usually with a performance of some sort.
I believe the saying comes from a superstitious idea that if you wish someone good luck, the opposite will happen; therefore you tell them to "break a leg" so that they will have good luck instead. People involved with theater are said to be very superstitious, although I have not found that to be true, at least at the amateur level Emotion: smile
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Really Del? Ask them when they plan to put on a version of Macbethand watch how quickly they turn pale, throw salt over their shoulder, etc. Emotion: wink
Now, now. The only time I ever saw anybody get upset about a mention of "The Scottish Play" was when we had a group of actors visiting from Wales.
Oh and New2, "break a leg" would definitely refer to the giving of the wedding speech, not its preparation. It wouldn't make sense otherwise.
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Very interesting saying! Thanks everyone.
The French version, I have heard, is simpler. I believe they simply say, "M*rde!"
Wikipedia says that this "expression is sometimes used outside the theatre". Could you please list some situations when one can use it?

I have just read a newspaper article about a woman who sent her cousin a "break a leg" text message on his wedding day. He literally broke his leg just minutes before the ceremony - what bad luck!

So is it common to wish the groom (and bride too?) to break a leg? What are some other occasions (outside the theatre) when it is appropriate to use the phrase?
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