necessity is the mother of invention

Cultural Dictionary

Necessity is the mother of invention definition


A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem. This saying appears in the dialogue Republic, by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato.

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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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

necessity is the mother of invention

Inventiveness and ingenuity are stimulated by difficulty. For example, The first prisoner to tie together bedsheets to escape knew that necessity was the mother of invention. This proverb first appeared in English in 1519 in slightly different form, "Need taught him wit," and exists in many other languages as well.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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