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cut the Gordian knot To resolve a situation or solve a problem by force or evasive action; to take action quickly, decisively, and boldly.
Turn him to any cause of policy, The Gordian knot of it he will unloose.
(Shakespeare, Henry V, I, i)
According to Greek legend, Phrygia (now part of Turkey) was in need of a leader to end its political and economic woes. The local oracle foretold that a man fit to be king would enter the city in a cart. Shortly thereafter, Gordius, a peasant, rode into town in an ox-cart which was connected to the yoke by an intricate knot made of bark. After being proclaimed king, Gordius dedicated the cart to Zeus, whereupon the oracle predicted that whoever was able to undo the knot would rule over all of Asia. In 333 B.C., Alexander the Great reputedly entered the temple and cut the knot with his sword, thus fulfilling the prophecy. The expression cut the knot is a variation.
deus ex machina See RESCUE.
a hair of the dog that bit you See FOOD and DRINK.
hammer out To work out laboriously or with much intellectual effort; to figure out, to settle, to resolve. This verb phrase usually appears in a context implying that opposing and conflicting forces have resolved differences or tensions. The term was clearly coined as the figurative extension of the literal pounding and hammering of a blacksmith as he shapes metal objects.
just what the doctor ordered Something desirable or restorative. A product of our health- and medicine-conscious culture, this expression is said of anything—a person, a substance, an idea—which has a soothing, palliative, make-it-all-better effect.
The waiter brought her a drink. “Just what the doctor ordered,” she said, smiling at him. (Gore Vidal, City and Pillar, 1948)
open sesame Any agency through which a desired result is realized; the key to a mystery or other perplexing situation; any real or magic act that brings about wanted fame, acceptance, etc. This saying comes from The Arabian Nights (1785) where it was used by Ali Baba as the password to open up the door of a robber’s hideaway.
Ali Baba … perceiving the door, … said—“Open, sesame.”
The expression was perhaps derived homonymously from open-says-me.
Thy name shall be a Sesame, at which the doors of the great shall fly open. (Charles Calverley, Verses and Translations, 1862)
pull out of a hat To come up unexpectedly with a response or solution, often in the nick of time, when all else has failed. This expression appeared in print during the mid-1900s. It alludes to the magician’s trick of pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
I must say you’ve really pulled one out of the hat this time. (J. McClune, Steam Pig, 1971)
Rosetta stone The agency through which a puzzle is solved; something that provides the initial step in the understanding of a previously incomprehensible design or situation. The Rosetta stone, discovered in 1799 by the French engineer M. Boussard, is an ancient basalt table which bears inscriptions in two languages—Egyptian and Greek—and three alphabets—hieroglyphic, demotic (a cursive type of Egyptian hieroglyphics), and Greek. This archaeological windfall furnished the key to translating the hitherto indecipherable Egyptian hieroglyphics. The expression’s current figurative use as a reference to the first clue in unraveling a mystery was illustrated by Ellsworth Ferris, as cited in Webster’s Third:
This book can be its own Rosetta stone and it is an interesting game to try to ferret out meanings by comparing passages till the puzzle is solved.
|Noun||1.||solution - a homogeneous mixture of two or more substances; frequently (but not necessarily) a liquid solution; "he used a solution of peroxide and water"|
saltiness - the property of containing salt (as a compound or in solution)
brine - a strong solution of salt and water used for pickling
solubility - the quantity of a particular substance that can dissolve in a particular solvent (yielding a saturated solution)
mixture - (chemistry) a substance consisting of two or more substances mixed together (not in fixed proportions and not with chemical bonding)
aqueous solution - a solution in water
congo red - a red-brown azo dye especially as a chemical pH indicator (congo red is red in basic and blue in acidic solutions)
bleach liquor - a solution containing bleaching agents that is used to bleach textiles or paper pulp
buffer solution - a solution containing a buffer
collodion - a colorless syrupy solution of pyroxylin in ether and alcohol; used as a coating for wounds or photographic films
chlorine water - an aqueous solution of chlorine used as a bleaching agent
conjugate, conjugate solution - a mixture of two partially miscible liquids A and B produces two conjugate solutions: one of A in B and another of B in A
dilution - a diluted solution
electrolyte - a solution that conducts electricity; "the proper amount and distribution of electrolytes in the body is essential for health"
eluate - a liquid solution that results from elution
Fehling's solution - a liquid solution of copper sulfate and potassium tartrate and sodium hydroxide that is used to test for sugar in the urine; solution turns reddish when sugar is present
formalin, formol - a 10% solution of formaldehyde in water; used as a disinfectant or to preserve biological specimens
liquid bleach - a solution containing bleaching agents; used for laundry
fluorescein, fluoresceine, fluorescent dye, resorcinolphthalein - a yellow dye that is visible even when highly diluted; used as an absorption indicator when silver nitrate solution is added to sodium chloride in order to precipitate silver chloride (turns pink when no chloride ions are left in solution and negative fluorescein ions are then absorbed)
sap - a watery solution of sugars, salts, and minerals that circulates through the vascular system of a plant
primary solid solution, solid solution - a homogeneous solid that can exist over a range of component chemicals; a constituent of alloys that is formed when atoms of an element are incorporated into the crystals of a metal
Gram's solution - a solution used in staining bacteria by Gram's method; consists of one part iodine and two parts potassium iodide and 300 parts water
toner - a solution containing chemicals that can change the color of a photographic print
|2.||solution - a statement that solves a problem or explains how to solve the problem; "they were trying to find a peaceful solution"; "the answers were in the back of the book"; "he computed the result to four decimal places"|
statement - a message that is stated or declared; a communication (oral or written) setting forth particulars or facts etc; "according to his statement he was in London on that day"
denouement - the final resolution of the main complication of a literary or dramatic work
|3.||solution - a method for solving a problem; "the easy solution is to look it up in the handbook"|
method - a way of doing something, especially a systematic way; implies an orderly logical arrangement (usually in steps)
silver bullet - a simple guaranteed solution for a difficult problem; "no silver bullet can make the world safe from terrorism"
|4.||solution - the set of values that give a true statement when substituted into an equation|
set - (mathematics) an abstract collection of numbers or symbols; "the set of prime numbers is infinite"
|5.||solution - the successful action of solving a problem; "the solution took three hours"|
success - an attainment that is successful; "his success in the marathon was unexpected"; "his new play was a great success"