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What's the origin of the expression "Them's the breaks", meaning "that's how the cookie crumbles"?

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Maybe generalized from the expression "Them's the rules", which seems to have been around decades earlier. –  Peter Shor Dec 28 '12 at 5:27
    
@PeterShor oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/… –  Kris Dec 28 '12 at 6:12
    
There is phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/42/messages/839.html but I don't believe we should be repeating unbounded conjecture as an answer, so I won't. –  Andrew Leach Dec 28 '12 at 7:17
    
@Kris: I was talking about the "them's the" part. From Google Ngrams, it appears that both "that's the breaks" and "them's the rules" have been around for much longer than "them's the breaks". –  Peter Shor Dec 28 '12 at 13:47
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1 Answer

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It is of American origin and comes from the game of pool.

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If it's from pool, why is "breaks" plural? It's always singular in pool. –  Peter Shor Dec 28 '12 at 13:47
    
Does this come from an authoritative source? –  Philip Seyfi Dec 28 '12 at 15:33
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Google Books shows Them's the breaks emerging from That's the breaks [of the game] (1929-present) in a 1958 story by Robert Sheckley in Galaxy. Breaks of the game goes back at least to Billiards: Game, 500 Up (1846), where the game described appears to my ignorance to be what is now called 'English Billiards'. –  StoneyB Dec 28 '12 at 15:47
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