Used as a metaphor to describe a particularly complex or unsolvable problem (knotted) that has, in the end, a simple solution (i.e., cutting the knot off).
It comes from a story where Alexander the Great entered the city Gordium in the 4th century BCE. There was a prophecy that whoever could unravel a huge knot attached to an ox-cart would rule all Asia. After struggling with the knot itself, he drew his sword and sliced it off instead, thus providing the end result without following the usual/expected path and winning the prize.
Seems similar to the Kobayashi Maru test in the star trek universe.« Back to Glossary Index