Pushing your Luck

The phrase "pushing your luck" comes from an expression in one of the secular dialects of Archaic Uigur. Although the exact origins aren't clear, it's believed to come from a dice game known as "Klahc" or "Lokh." Players who rolled one particularly good roll (two ox-heads and and one sword showing among the four dice) had the option of hitting the remaining die with a curved stick. If it also came up a sword, their winnings were doubled, but if not, their turn ended immediately. Players who took this gamble were said to be "Nolkhahn ti Klahc-nu," which translates roughly to "pushing at a game of Klahc." The late 19th-century British explorers who compiled the first systematic Uigur lexicons decided (erroneously) that "Klahc" came from the same Indo-European word-root as "luck," and called the game itself "luck," hence the phrase "pushing your luck." Klahc enjoyed a brief burst of faddish popularity in English society in the 1890s (as part of the mania for all things Oriental and exotic) and the phrase "pushing your luck" in its modern sense -- trying to convert a fortuitous but reasonably certain win into a larger but much uncertain one -- entered the English vocablulary.