Etymology Day, Part Seven

Grabbing the Brass Ring

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When I heard this expression, it was from a really cool Canadian visitor at work. I had no idea what he was referring to. He was talking about how he wanted to buy a winter home out here and finally “grab that brass ring.” I thought it was some random Canadian expression (they have brass rings as gifts when they buy a house? They win houses grabbing a brass ring?), and as he left, I immediately headed to the internet to investigate. Turns out that brass rings were a prize when you rode a carousel! Imagine, one of my favorite li’l kid things to do to this day, and I had never heard of this expression!

This is how it goes: You ride the carousel, fancy free, and you get a chance to pull an iron ring out of this dispenser as you ride around. At some, you can try and throw it through things to get a prize, but for most of them, the person who got the brass ring won a big prize. It was usually a free ride.

The expression came to mean “living life to the fullest” and what it is normally used for today.

It makes me feel all generous and kickass. I want to help everyone get out there and grab their own brass ring!

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