cut the Gordian knot, to

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cut the Gordian knot

To solve a very challenging or daunting problem decisively. The phrase likely alludes to Gordius, the king of Phrygia, who tied a knot that an oracle proclaimed would only be cut by the future ruler of Asia. Alexander the Great allegedly cut the Gordian knot in one blow. A: "Wait, Matt already solved that impossible equation?" B: "Yes! I have no idea how he did it, but he sure cut the Gordian knot."
See also: cut, Gordian, knot

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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

cut the Gordian knot

LITERARY
If someone cuts the Gordian knot, they deal with a difficult situation in a quick, forceful and effective way. Mr Sandler cut the Gordian knot that was strangling the market. Note: Verbs such as break, untie and untangle are sometimes used instead of cut. Which country should make the first move to untie the Gordian knot? Note: Gordian knot is used to describe a problem that is very difficult to solve. The federal deficit has become the Gordian knot of Washington. He found himself tied up in a real emotional Gordian Knot. Note: According to an ancient legend, Gordius, the king of Phrygia, tied a knot that nobody could untie. It was said that if anyone untied it, they would become the next ruler of Asia. When Alexander the Great heard this, he solved the problem by cutting through the knot with a sword.
See also: cut, Gordian, knot
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

cut the Gordian knot

solve or remove a problem in a direct or forceful way, rejecting gentler or more indirect methods.
The knot referred to is that with which Gordius, king of ancient Phrygia (in Asia Minor), fastened the yoke of his wagon to the pole. Its complexity was such that it gave rise to the legend that whoever could undo it would become the ruler of Asia. When Alexander the Great passed that way en route to conquer the East he is said simply to have severed the knot with his sword.
See also: cut, Gordian, knot
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

cut the Gordian knot, to

To get out of trouble by taking a single decisive step. According to legend, Gordius, a peasant who became king of Phrygia, dedicated his wagon to the god Jupiter and tied the yoke to a tree with such a difficult knot that no one could unfasten it. Alexander the Great was told that whoever could untie the wagon would rule all Asia, whereupon he simply cut the knot with his sword. Many writers have alluded to this myth, among them Shakespeare (“Turn him to any cause of policy, the Gordian Knot of it he will unloose”), in HenryV (1.1). It has been a cliché since about 1800 but is seldom heard today.
See also: cut, Gordian
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

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
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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References in periodicals archive ?
On Monday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attempted to cut the Gordian Knot with its most audacious and riskiest stroke in the little over five years that it has been in power.
Beyond the high-end discussions, the conference should help countries to cut the Gordian knot of human settlement woes.
In order to cut the Gordian knot, Prime Ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev risked a lot politically yet gained a great deal for their countries and the whole region," Roth says.
Emissaries of international fora like the Commonwealth and the United Nations had failed to cut the Gordian knot stemming from confrontational political standoff over electoral disputes, not to speak of ineffectual crisis-resolution efforts of local go-betweens.
"Ready to Cut the Gordian Knot" and "Renouncing Irredentism to Unlock Solution" read some of them.
Could this then, be the opportunity to cut the Gordian knot? As far as I know, the Turkish Cypriots living in the area understand and acknowledge the need of developing the Greater Famagusta Area on a coordinated basis.
"If indeed there has been a sea change toward Israel and the American Jewish community with the advent of the Trump administration, then it will be reflected in the ability of the 2nd Circuit to respond freely and honestly to the facts and the circumstances of the case, and to cut the Gordian knot that keeps Pollard chained in America unfairly and unjustly," he said, adding that "with a new administration in place, a change for the better is possible."
Above all it would force the pluralistic Maronite community to cut the Gordian Knot of the presidency which has proven so damaging to it.
A fourth term offered Kitzhaber the opportunity see his health care and education reforms through to greater maturity, and perhaps to wield his mediation skills to cut the Gordian knot of Oregon politics: tax reform.
President, you be that one to cut the Gordian knot, and just decide.
The intractable issues of post-colonial Africa have frustrated diplomats and development agencies for decades, and the vague and chimerical suggestions of the authors--that a troubled African nation should simply "get its own house in order," for example--are not policy prescriptions likely to cut the Gordian Knot of Africa's manifold governance problems.
Isn't it time to cut the Gordian knot by reducing the handout mentality and the dependence on the government to meet most housing needs?
The impulse simply to cut the Gordian knot of debt by defaulting on it is much stronger when creditors are remote and unknown.
The United States has repeatedly tried to cut the Gordian knot of landownership.