join (up) the dots

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join (up) the dots

1. Literally, to draw a line between dots, often as part of a children's activity to create an illustration or design. The kids are having fun joining the dots and making pretty pictures for us.
2. To understand something by piecing together hints or other bits of information. Once I started joining the dots, I realized that the "agent" who took my money to find work for me had totally ripped me off. When I saw the articles about the stolen semi truck and the escaped convict, it didn't take long to join up the dots.
3. To put two or more people, groups together in communication, association, or cooperation. Usually followed by "between (something) and (something else)." The mission of this program is to join the dots between our spirituality and our focus on real-world issues. Our group aims to join up the dots between local, state, and federal government agencies to provide comprehensive assistance to all our citizens.
See also: dot, join

join up the dots

add the missing links in a line of reasoning (and reach the inevitable conclusion).
The expression is based on the idea of an outline drawing made by tracing a line through a series of dots.
2003 Scotland on Sunday The Mercury Music Prize…really helped us to be taken seriously. I think a lot of people knew the songs but didn't necessarily know they were by us so it also helped to join up the dots for them.
See also: dot, join, up
References in periodicals archive ?
ALIEN: COVENANT 15 SET about 10 years after the 2012 prequel Prometheus, Alien: Covenant joins the dots to the original sci-fi trilogy.
Alien: Covenant joins the dots to the original movie with strong echoes of Sigourney Weaver's exploits as Ripley, meekly mimicked by Waterston.
Mr Donald said Europol joins the dots in complex international investigations.
IAN WISHART joins the dots and links them back to a UN plan called Agenda 21.
Indie-folk star Bright Eyes joins the dots between festival sets with three low-key gigs from July 12-14.
30pm: Transition Coventry will be hearing from Canadian expert Nicole Foss as she joins the dots between economics and environment in a free event at Coventry Council House.
Using a range of sources supplemented with unique insight from industry experts, it joins the dots to provide an informative and compelling overview of the CCS industry, and is imperative reading for strategic decision makers.
Francis Coppola's seething conclusion to his operatic saga, joins the dots between church, state and gangsters.
A sensational debut single that joins the dots between PJ Harvey and The Runaways.
The fairly clichAd plot joins the dots between rap highlights.
This charmingly candid film joins the dots between Stiff Little Fingers, Scritti Politti, The Smiths, The Strokes and several other very noisy bands whose names don't start with S to ask the burning question: How the heck did that happen?
After watching a clip of the show, Assistant DA Novak (Diane Neal) joins the dots between the placardwaving mums and a shockjock named BJ Cameron (stand-up comedian Lewis Black) who has been bad-mouthing poor Jessie on air.
Zoe Ball voices this fun documentary which joins the dots of a sexual revolution that starts in 1994 - the year of the Wonderbra, the launch of Loaded magazine and the Spice Girls.