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May 18, 2010
This week's theme
Whose what?

This week's words
Ockham's razor
Morton's fork
Hobson's choice
Achilles' heel
St. Elmo's fire

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Morton's fork

PRONUNCIATION:
(MOR-tuhns fork)

MEANING:
noun: A situation involving choice between two equally undesirable outcomes.

ETYMOLOGY:
After John Morton (c. 1420-1500), archbishop of Canterbury, who was tax collector for the English King Henry VII. To him is attributed Morton's fork, a neat argument for collecting taxes from everyone: those living in luxury obviously had money to spare and those living frugally must have accumulated savings to be able to pay.

USAGE:
"[Japan's political elites] face a Morton's fork between being ignored or being seen as a problem to which there is little solution."
Michael Auslin; Japan Dissing; The Wall Street Journal (New York); Apr 22, 2010.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Ethiopians imagine their gods as black and snub-nosed; Thracians blue-eyed and red-haired. But if horses or lions had hands, or could draw and fashion works as men do, horses would draw the gods shaped like horses and lions like lions, making the gods resemble themselves. -Xenophanes, philosopher and poet (c.570-475 BCE)

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