What is the origin of "give me a break"? It's used in American slang (at least in California) and I assume in the UK as well. I am not sure that it was in use when I was growing up in California in the 1950s and 1960s ... but it is a rather common expression today (at least in my generation). It's hard to define, perhaps a cross between "I don't believe it" and "That's just what I would expect." When you hear bad news, we often say it, "Give me a break" but the phrase has far wider and more subtle meaning than its literal meaning might imply.