Gordian knot

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Gordian knot

A complicated problem that can only be solved with creative or unorthodox thinking. In Greek and Roman mythology, King Gordian tied such a complex knot that only Alexander the Great was able to loosen it by cutting it with his sword. Trying to remove the gum from my daughter's hair turned into quite the Gordian knot. Ultimately, it was just easier to cut the tangled mess out of her hair. The coding problem looked like a Gordian knot until we realized we could bypass it altogether with a different approach.
See also: Gordian, knot

Gordian knot

A difficult problem that can be solved by an unexpected and simple method. According to an old Greek legend, a poor peasant named Gordius appeared in the public square of Phrygia in an ox cart. Since an oracle had prophesized that the future king would ride into town in a wagon, Gordius was made ruler. In gratitude, Gordius dedicated his ox cart to Zeus and tied the cart to a pole with a highly intricate knot, whereupon an oracle foretold that whosoever untied the knot would rule all of Asia. Although many tried in vain to untie the knot, it took Alexander the Great to do so, which he did with one cut of his sword. That might not have been the method that Gordius or the oracle had in mind, but it was good enough to enable Alexander to conquer most of Asia as well as a large chunk of the rest of the known world.
See also: Gordian, knot
References in classic literature ?
To her mind this complicated tangle of the affairs of life was a Gordian knot impossible to untie and which genius ought to cut.
Last year, ManpowerGroup revealed that Human Age forces had strengthened, becoming more intertwined and difficult to separate - like a Gordian Knot.
Houdini Brown escaped from a Gordian knot he'd unnecessarily tied himself.
This tiny country is held fast by a Gordian knot of unusual complexity, one whose many strands lead to such places as Israel, Syria, America and Iran.
MacKenzie explains that in many process-oriented organizations, "intricate patterns of effective behavior have grown around lessons of success and failure, creating a Gordian Knot of Corporate Normalcy.
The whole question of electronic privacy is like a Gordian knot," Casti said.
For some time the pornography issue has been a Gordian knot in which free speech, feminism, free enterprise, violence against women, child sexuality, and gay rights are knitted into a tightly balled mess.
Far from the Global Village that media visionary Marshall McLuhan once predicted-in which everyone would communicate in the same language-worldwide business, currently taking place in more than three dozen languages, is more of a Gordian Knot.