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In a drama I am watching, a guy is being called out for being dressed like Michael Jackson at a school reunion. He mentions that his invitation card said it would be a 90s celebrity cosplay party. The host then says this, in passing:

抱歉,我想說他壓軸

I have found 壓軸 in dictionaries and I have also encountered it before in novels, where it has made sense to me. Here it trips me up though. Dictionary entry (in English):

1 grand finale (last and best item in a theatrical programme), ≪pièce de résistance≫
2 {in former times} the next to last act in a theatrical programme

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  • Seems to be an incomplete sentence.
    – joehua
    Jul 29, 2022 at 21:01
  • She doesn't say anything else, and she is not cut off by another speaker. Speaker #1: 大芳給我的邀請函上面有著裝要求啊. 90年代巨星風啊. Speaker #2: 抱歉,我想說他壓軸 The conversation then moves on to another topic.
    – timseb
    Jul 29, 2022 at 21:34
  • It is important to know what Speaker #2 said that drew this response from Speaker #1; who was "he", and what type of dress he wore, which might have been excel from the 着装要求.
    – r13
    Jul 30, 2022 at 1:17

2 Answers 2

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I ask my smart and beautiful friend, 晓云。She immediately said:

抱歉,我想說他壓軸。
Sorry, I wanted to say, he was the greatest!

on a notion of "save the best till last"

The plot thickens:

Contrary to popular belief 压轴 actually doesn't mean: "the finale, the last and, presumably best, act"

压轴”原本是戏曲名词,指一场折子戏演出的倒数第二个剧目。在现代社会中有很多应用,比如“压轴戏”,但压轴也是人们知识的一个盲区。“压轴”本意是指倒数第二个节目,而不是人们常说的倒数第一个,倒数第一个节目称“压台”。

“压轴”本意是指倒数第二个节目, 而不是人们常说的倒数第一个

倒数第一个节目称“压台”。
counting backwards, the first item is called “压台”。

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  • I learnt this word when I was reading Taipei People by Pai-Hsien Young and it seems to mean both. According to the Cross-Straits dictionary as well, like the KEY dictionary I cited above, it seems to first have meant the second but last performance, but in modern times also means highlight / last performance in general. "泛指最精彩、令人注目的結尾或最後出現的事件。" You're answer makes sense to the scene in general so I will mark it as the answer to my question.
    – timseb
    Jul 30, 2022 at 8:02
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No matter whether the 压轴戏 is the second to the last play or the last play, 压轴戏 is usually played by the most famous/important actors in the group (戏班挂头牌的主要演员), so the sentence goes as "抱歉,我想說他是/挂头牌" - "Sorry, I wanted to say he is the best (number one).

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