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?


"The world is your oyster"


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.

Drill-Baby-Drill drill Team

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?

50 years old with college degree face foreclosure

American Dream, you only believe it while you asleep.


-Let the baby have its bottle.

-That's why you get the big bucks.

-It takes all kinds.


"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.

Bill Harshaw

"grandfathered in"


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.

Betsy Gabler

Heavens to Betsy
(because I get that all the time)


The expression "silver bullet" was used in this sense in 1934, in the New Yorker ("Anti-corruption is not a silver bullet"; Volume 10, Issue 2, found via Google Books).


red herring


Just noticed in the newly published book of letters between Julia Child and Avis DeVoto the use of "bug" to refer to a problem--1953. Not just the computer people even then!


I don't have a complete quotation but a recollection that goes somewhat like this:

"It must be remembered that America was populated by people whose response to social problems was to run away"

And I have a faint connection with a Brit, possibly Bevins.

I'd love to know the right quote and the source.


robert hughes

Oshkosh B'gosh

Patrick Curran

Where and when did the term nut(s) or come from to describe someone who is crazy/insane, On a related note where/when did "nut farm " first come into use.


Question, did not the use of a silver bullet by the Lone Ranger predate 1951?


Cat's pajamas
Dog's breakfast
Monkey's uncle


The whole nine yards.
I've heard it's not actually related to American football.


Where does this line come from...

"All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."


Where does the term to "blow a lead" as used in sports come from?