To square the circle

See under Square.
(Math.) to determine the exact contents of a circle in square measure. The solution of this famous problem is now generally admitted to be impossible.
- Sir W. Scott.

See also: Circle, Square

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by G. & C. Merriam Co.
References in periodicals archive ?
As he tries to square the circle of the public finances, this is bad Philip Hammond news to Chancellor Philip Hammond.
I don't have to square the circle of conflicting foreign policy objectives or pretend interests or pretend no interests,' said Mr Baum.
He said: "I find it difficult to square the circle of having a customs partnership which is very like the union we have now but at the same time Britain engaging in trade deals with third parties.
The Swiss government is trying to square the circle of implementing a cut in EU immigration decided upon in a 2014 referendum without rendering an economically important set of treaties with the 28-country bloc void.
And when we hear the majority of hospitals are in deficit we realise that to square the circle in the NHS has gone from extremely difficult to almost mission impossible.
This realistic attitude will put Obama at odds with those who back his earlier tough position on Al Assad in both the US and abroad, but it follows on a recent statement by US Secretary John Kerry, in which he sought to square the circle by agreeing that Al Assad must go, but by being deliberately vague on when that would be required.
For two years the discretionary housing fund has been used to square the circle for the most vulnerable.
For two years, the discretionary housing fund has been used to square the circle for the most vulnerable.
And we also have to square the circle of making sure there are homes for people to live in while protecting our environment."
Hippocrates tries to square the circle, and succeeds in squaring the lune.
In Written Lives, however, Javier Marias--a brilliant novelist, with one foot in the Trollopian pre-modern and the other in perfect strangeness--has managed, simply and offhandedly, to square the circle of literary biography: noting the tendency of much modern fiction to edge towards the status of the essay (Guy Davenport, Alexander Kluge, Enrique Vila-Matas), he treats the twenty-six famous (and not-so-famous) writers in this collection as fictional characters ("which may well be how all writers ...