Gordian knot

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noun Gor·di·an knot \ˈgȯr-dē-ən-\

Definition of Gordian knot

  1. 1 :  an intricate problem; especially :  a problem insoluble in its own terms —often used in the phrase cut the Gordian knot

  2. 2 :  a knot tied by Gordius, king of Phrygia, held to be capable of being untied only by the future ruler of Asia, and cut by Alexander the Great with his sword

Gordian knot was our Word of the Day on 12/20/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of gordian knot in a Sentence

  1. a Gordian knot of legal troubles

Did You Know?

According to Greek mythology, when the peasant Gordius became king of Gordium in Phrygia, he dedicated his wagon to Jupiter and fastened its yoke to a beam with a very complex knot. Centuries later, when Alexander the Great arrived on the scene, he was told that he couldn't conquer and rule Asia unless he proved himself worthy by untying the knot. Alexander quickly solved his problem - and gained a new kingdom - by slicing the knot in half with his sword. Since then, "Gordian knot" has become a term for a difficult problem, and the phrase "cut the Gordian knot" has become a popular way to describe a neat solution for an apparently insurmountable difficulty.

First Known Use of gordian knot

1579


GORDIAN KNOT Defined for English Language Learners

Gordian knot

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noun

Definition of Gordian knot for English Language Learners

  • : a complicated and difficult problem


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