Quotes Uncovered: Silver Bullets

I’m back to inviting readers to submit quotations whose origins they want me to try to trace, using my book, The Yale Book of Quotations, and my more recent research.

Ross asked:

Who first used the term “silver bullet” to mean an ideal solution to a difficult problem?

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the term “silver bullet” back to 1678, with the definition “A bullet made of silver. Frequently with reference to the folk tradition that such a bullet can harm a werewolf (or other supernatural being) whereas an ordinary bullet cannot.” In the figurative sense “A simple, miraculous solution to a complex and difficult problem,” the OED‘s earliest citation is from the Bedford (Pennsylvania) Gazette, Sept. 19, 1951: “There are those who warn against viewing the atom as a magic weapon. I agree. This is not a silver bullet which can deliver itself or otherwise work military miracles.”

Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?

Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.



View All Comments »
  1. LB says:

    “The world is your oyster”

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  2. Rick says:

    Where did the phrase, “This page intentionally left blank” come from? There is a computer programmer legend that it first came from an IBM mainframe system manual in the 1960s, but I’ve never been able to find it.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  3. Drill-Baby-Drill drill Team says:

    The Silver Bullet is the only munition that can INCREASE the value of a victim.

    There were half a dozen unconscious victims of The Silver Bullet in the Dew Drop Inn on Saturday night. Yes, they drank Coors light till they passed out.

    If we shot a laser guided Silver Bullet into the Achilles Heel of a Zombie, would we still need to cut of the head or would a stake through the heart suffice?

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  4. 50 years old with college degree face foreclosure says:

    American Dream, you only believe it while you asleep.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  5. Bart says:

    -Let the baby have its bottle.

    -That’s why you get the big bucks.

    -It takes all kinds.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  6. Debbie says:

    “There is no bad weather only inappropriate clothing.”
    I’ve been told that that is a quote from Maria Montessori but I have not found it.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  7. Bill Harshaw says:

    “grandfathered in”

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  8. Phil says:

    I can verify that ‘this page intentionally left blank’ occurred in IBM 370 manuals which I remember reading in the mid-70s. I wish I still had one.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0