What Does Press Your Luck Mean?

Press Your Luck Meaning

Definition: To risk failure due to expecting one’s good fortune to continue.

An alternative version is to push one’s luck.

Origin of Press Your Luck

This expression is especially common in the negative form, as in don’t press your luck.

For example, parents often tell their children not to press their luck after the parents give in to one special request and the children ask for another. A short form is simply don’t push it.

This idiom appeared around the early-1900s. The exact origin is unclear. However, it may come from the literal meaning of pressing or pushing something. If you are trying to move something that is difficult to move, you could press or push it harder. If you push too hard, it could break.

Likewise, one could press or push his luck in an endeavor to be even luckier. However, if they push too hard, they may lose it all.

Examples of Press Your Luck

push your luck

In this example, a woman is trying to convince her friend to go to the opera with her.

Neha: I know you’re not into classical forms of music, but I have an extra ticket to the opera, and no one to go with me. Please consider joining me! I promise I would make it worth your while. I’ll cook you your favorite meal as a bribe! And remember, you owe me because I came to that NASCAR race that you loved but I hated.

Tyrese: Okay, fine. But only because I owe you.

Neha: Really? Great! There’s also a ballet next week.

Tyrese: Don’t push your luck. If you try to make me come to the ballet, I’ll back out of the opera.

Neha: Okay, okay. Never mind! Just the opera is fine.

pushing my luckIn this example, two office workers are discussing a nice surprise one of them got.

Barry: Look at this!

Rachel: What is it?

Barry: This is my new office! Isn’t it great? It’s so much bigger than my old one, and it even has a window. They gave it to me as a reward for taking on more responsibilities for the company.

Rachel: Well, that’s great! Did they give you a raise as well?

Barry: No, and I won’t ask for one because I don’t want to push my luck.

More Examples

This example is about a politician who calculates each political move.

  • Rather than press his luck by pushing the envelope, the mayor doesn’t address legal firearms in an amended ordinance governing the buses, according to information his administration provided. –Chicago Tribune

This excerpt is from an article about a lying lawyer in trouble with a judge.

  • A Brooklyn lawyer accused of trying every trick in the book to get hearing delays — including falsely claiming that his mom had died — pressed his luck one more time Monday with a clearly irritated judge. –New York Post


The phrase press one’s luck is another way to say to be overconfident that one will remain lucky and to take an additional and unnecessary chance.