“But them’s the breaks” – Do You Want to be Remembered for this Phrase?

Boris Johnson, soon to be former UK Prime Minister, likes to compare himself to Winton Churchill. In his concession speech, one line stood out to me, and it was not Churchillian.

Remember, we are lucky if people remember one thing about us: one thing we said, how we said it, or in what we look like as we speak. Johnson covered much ground in his concession speech. One line stands out to me, because we’re lucky if people remember one thing.

“But them’s the breaks.

It was right after he said, “And I want you to know how sad I am to be giving up the best job in the world”. He then added, “But them’s the breaks.

“Them’s the breaks is a phrase with little history. Etymology is the study of the origin of words. Etymology can only guess about the origins of this phrase: from billiards to the South to it being a gangster phrase. One thing that is known and agreed upon is that its roots are American.

Johnson was born in New York City and spent time off and on in the United States for his first five years ago. That was a long time ago. How did this phrase pop up and why?

If you are trying to sound like a statesman in the United Kingdom, would you choose an American phrase to explain your status?

A little too informal for me. “But them’s the breaks. #BorisJohnson #UK


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