elementary, my dear watson

Cultural Dictionary

Elementary, my dear Watson definition


A phrase often attributed to Sherlock Holmes, the English detective in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes supposedly says this to his amazed companion, Dr. Watson, as he explains his reasoning in solving a crime. Though these precise words are never used in the Holmes stories, something like them appears in the story “The Crooked Man”: “‘Excellent!’ I [Watson] cried. ‘Elementary,’ said he.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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