Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An exceedingly complicated problem or deadlock.
  • noun An intricate knot tied by King Gordius of Phrygia and cut by Alexander the Great with his sword after hearing an oracle promise that whoever could undo it would be the next ruler of Asia.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The legendary knot tied to a pole near the temple of Zeus in Gordium.
  • noun by extension Any intricate and complex problem.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an intricate knot tied by Gordius, the king of Phrygia, and cut by the sword of Alexander the Great after he heard that whoever undid it would become ruler of Asia
  • noun any very difficult problem; insoluble in its own terms

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From the name of a legendary knot tied to a pole near the temple of Zeus in Gordium. It was prophesied that whoever loosed the knot would become ruler of all Asia. Alexander the Great solved the puzzle by slicing through the knot and took it as a sign of Zeus's favor. He then proceeded to conquer much of the known world.

Examples

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