almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Anthony_De-Kroch, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. My first thread after all these years looking in this forum. Congrats to the forum-users, but this time, I have a difficulty and I need to ask by myself.
    Even after several looks of internet, I've got troubles to understand the meaning of this idiom, and more precisely, when to use it. I got the fact that it means - more or less - that "almost" is not enough, but the situations when to use it is still not cristal clear for me. Could somebody enlighten me, give me examples? Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  2. LART01

    LART01 Senior Member

    La Haye Pays-Bas
    This proverb means=

    Coming close but not succeeding is not good enough
  3. WillHelpIfICan Senior Member

    English - UK
    "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades"
    Or as my dad used to say
    "An inch is as good as a mile"
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  4. tripoli Senior Member

    Found here :
    Literally the phrase means that "almost" is a valid answer in the game of horseshoes (almost a ringer counts as one point) and when throwing handgrenades (almost a direct hit still does pretty good damage to the target...)
  5. Ok! I understand better now. In which situation can it be used? Is it more colloquial or more elevated English? Can I use this idiom in a conversation with my boss or only with my friends?
  6. WillHelpIfICan Senior Member

    English - UK
    It's the same register as "rater, même de peu, c'est rater".
  7. tripoli Senior Member

    I am not sure that it is frequently used though...
  8. I guess not :) but I've read it in a book and it took my attention. Idioms are hard to learn and harder to use in real life when you're not native speaker.

    Thanks for your help folks! :)
  9. Egmont Senior Member

    Massachusetts, U.S.
    English - U.S.
    It is used frequently, at least among the people I talk with. I also sometimes hear "... horseshoes and nuclear weapons." The logic is the same: coming close to the target, even without a direct hit, will cause significant damage.

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