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Phrase for Good Luck?????


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I know they say "break a leg" in the theater. How do you spell the phrase for good luck in dance? :wink: I know it starts with an "M". I am making my nutcracker cast gift labels to finish this up for tonight and wanted to put that on the labels. Time is of the essence!!!! Thanks for your help! :)

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  • Mel Johnson


  • diane


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It's a little more intense than that, with the emphatic "MERDE!", not necessarily loud. Said that way, it means "you go to blazes".

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Thank you so much for the quick responses--I knew I could count on you guys.


So, Major Mel, which way should I put it on the cards? Emphatic or just there? :)

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Make it emphatic. Stated simply, it is just French for the four-letter word meaning "feces"!

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O.K., gotta know. You are really good at history lessons (and since I am a history major and social studies teacher--that is TRULY a compliment!). What is the history behind this one?

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It's a device to fool the Evil Eye. As we all know, the theater is inhabited by gremlins of a contrary nature. If you wish somebody "good luck", they will take it and make it BAD luck. Now, the theater gremlins are contrarians, but not very bright. You can fool them by wishing somebody "bad luck", and they will turn it around into GOOD luck!


The sources for "the Evil Eye" are very deep in human tradition. Read Joseph Campbell for an extended exploration.

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True, it's usually spoken. A lot depends on your personal preference, and the recipient's tolerance for a (today) mild vulgarity.


In French legal transcripts, instead of "expletive deleted", it used to be customary to write, "Le mot de Cambronne". That, legendarily, goes back to the Battle of Waterloo (1815), when Napoleon's Garde Imperiale was cornered on the battlefield and the British offered them the opportunity to surrender. Gen. Cambronne, commanding the Guard, is supposed to have said, "The Guard dies, but does not surrender." The legend goes on to say that years later the old veteran was interviewed by a reporter about his Wonderful Statement made on the battlefield.

"What Wonderful Statement?" said the old general.

"Well, what did you say?" asked the reporter.

"They yelled over, 'Surrender!' I yelled back, 'MERDE!'" :)


Perhaps American Gen. McAuliffe was thinking of this response when the Germans offered terms of surrender at the Battle of Bastogne (1944). He sent the message, "To the German Commander: NUTS!"

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The word is first found in the Roman de Renard in 1179 and comes from the latin word merda… In 1809, Napoleon , wondering about Talleyrand’s loyalty, threw him a “« ...Tenez, vous êtes de la merde dans un bas de soie ! » (you are ###### in a silk stocking ») When the emperor left the room, Talleyrand said to the people present « What a pity, Sirs, that such a great man should be so rude… »


A very famous French author, Sacha Guitry even wrote a play entitled Le mot de Cambronne in verse…and French speakers know that the word only rhymes with “perde”…


When we say it in a theatre in France, the recipient of the word shouldn’t say thank you…

And finally, we usually say “les 5 lettres” which means ‘the five letters” to say m…


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Thus throwing another layer of camouflage against the Evil Eye.


It's humorous to consider how this subject always excites so much comment whenever it is raised. :)

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:) Yes, we do love to discuss this!


interesting, minty, that you are not supposed to say, "thank you" when told this.

The same is true in Germany. There, one sort of "spits" over the person's left shoulder. (the sound of the "spitting" - "toi toi toi" - is what one then says, furtively... :wink: )

It is also considered quite bad luck to thank the person.



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Sorry it took me a week to get back and see the history lesson! I thnak you for it though. Very interesting stuff.


Nutcracker went well, the gifts were well received and most of them have no idea what that meant anyway! My 11yo daughter had quite a bit of amusement walking around saying it for 24-36 hours though--I just had to remind myself that she was only 11 and that it was her first words in a foreign language. I remember learning the curse words quickly when I took Germany in high school too! ;-)

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While I was dancing with the Johannesburg Youth Ballet this year I noticed manny of the dancers using the term chukkus to wish each other good luck, I've also noticed some of the dancers of the South African Ballet Theatre using it. Does any one know what the origin and meaning of this term is?

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The Children have taken the m word to extremes, they grab pinkys say " 1-2-3 Merde!" or is it "un deux tois Merde!?" and air kiss each other three times.

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