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May 2, 2005
This week's theme
Allusions and personifications

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with Anu Garg

An ad in a recent issue of a trade journal touts the efficacy of the product very forcefully. The graphic shows the classic maze scene complete with a rat and a piece of cheese in one corner. In the traditional experiment, the little animal is supposed to find his way through the maze, backtracking, remembering the paths already taken, and ultimately reaching the reward. Instead, in this scene, he zooms across the diagonal, turning to dust those parts of the maze that are in his way, and claims the prize he richly deserves. I think that was a perfect illustration of the idiom cutting the Gordian knot.

Can you think of a Gordian knot or two you could cut in your own life, at work or at home? This week we look at that and other allusions and metaphors.


Pronunciation RealAudio

gordian (GOR-dee-uhn) adjective

Highly intricate; extremely difficult to solve.

[In Greek mythology, King Gordius of Phrygia tied a knot that defied all who tried to untie it. An oracle prophesied that one who would undo this Gordian knot would rule Asia. Alexander the Great simply cut the knot with one stroke of his sword. Hence the saying, "to cut the Gordian knot" meaning to solve a difficult problem by a simple, bold, and effective action.]

See more usage examples of gordian in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

See what the Mathematical Association of America has to say about untying the Gordian knot.

"Fortunately, the FBI has a team of good-looking, well-dressed, super-smart agents to untangle this Gordian plot."
David Chater; TV Choice; The Times (London, UK); Apr 24, 2004.


Nothing so completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity himself, than straightforward and simple integrity in another. -Charles Caleb Colton, author and clergyman (1780-1832)

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