The phrase "Close, but no cigar" is popular with sports commentators the world over, for example in golf for missed putts. It is also in general usage. For example in the workplace, I have come across it, or the shortened form "No cigar" used to describe incomplete bugfixes and missed project deadlines.

The origin of this phrase is in the States in the 1800s and early 1900s, where cigars were given as fairground prizes.

There is an important cultural difference between the image of smoking cigars in Britain, and in America. In Britain, cigars were portrayed as symbolising luxury, having been brought back across the Atlantic by Sir Walter Raleigh. Later, British governments imposed huge excise duty on tobacco and tobacco products, again restricting cigars to the rich, and reinforcing the image of opulence.

In America, on the other hand, where the cigars were actually made, they were sold on a door to door basis. In fact, cigars were more popular in the States than cigarettes until the 1950s.

Source:   Alistair Cooke's Letter From America:

Enough piss if allowed to swell
and steam amongst a decent dog bed
and kept confined in a small room
(perhaps a downstairs cloak
abandoned to the animal in question)
will eventually and at a precise temperature
smell exactly on the evening's air
(once a door is opened) like the best cigars
a rich fug of poison and attendant thick throat.

This is not irony this is girl dog urine
always more bitter than the boys stronger
those acid squats onto dead grass dying
and now my neighbors good honest folks here
(the cheek by jowl of town living) ask across the fence
(one grill backed to another) if I have started on Cuban stogies
instead of those old cigarettes. 

A fine man patrician good father says: "I've often thought of Cuba
how I could've have gone there as a young man before Castro
seen young women rolling leaves on their thighs a looser time
than the Princeton Class of '52 although it was never to be
but cigars and I've never smoked always remind me of my secret life." 

And then he smiles his honest gums
takes a plate of meat inside saying
"Enjoy that smell it's freedom!"
while the bitch beside me dry begs for water. 

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