Definitions

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

  • noun A simple, trusty means of attaining a goal.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A charm or form of words by which barriers or obstructions may be opened and access or free passage gained.

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

  • interjection Open up!
  • noun Any successful means of achieving a result, especially means that are magical or technical, or otherwise beyond the understanding of most people.

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

  • noun a magical command; used by Ali Baba
  • noun any very successful means of achieving a result

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[From the magical formula Open Sesame, used by Ali Baba in the Arabian Nights to open the door of the robbers' cave.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Translating French Sésame ouvre-toi, in Galland's version of the Ali Baba story in the One Thousand and One Nights, apparently based on an oral Arabic source.

Examples

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Comments

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  • In the adventure tale of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, part of The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (Arabian Nights), Ali Baba, a poor Arab woodcutter, happens to overhear a group of thieves—forty in all—visiting their treasure store in the forest where he is cutting wood. The thieves' treasure is in a cave, the mouth of which is sealed by magic—it opens on the words "Open, O' Simsim" (commonly written as "Open Sesame" in English)

    The phrase Open Sesame has been popularized and used in a whimsical way when something is difficult or impossible to open.

    January 22, 2008