It's happened. You're in a five-way conversation and somebody pipes up with something like "Yeah, it's a Catch-22. You just can't get a job if you don't live in Florida." Trouble is, you know it's not a Catch-22, that the guy's blowing smoke, but you can't quite remember precisely what a Catch-22 is. So you keep quiet and everybody goes along. Well, study up and next time be the one in your cube-farm who doesn't mangle these common expressions. Read on!
1. Catch-22: (a) an unavoidable choice or exclusive division between only two alternatives; (b) a problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule; (c) being or relating to a point at which a go-no-go decision must be made; (d) an argument presenting two or more equally conclusive alternatives against an opponent.
2. Hobson's choice: (a) a standard on which a judgment or decision may be based; (b) a choice made by consideration of probabilities; (c) free choice; (d) an apparently free choice when there is no real alternative.
3. Occam's razor: (a) a scientific and philosophic rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities; (b) a theory in economics: an increase or decrease in income induces a corresponding but magnified change in investment; (c) a severe or crucial test; (d) a nonnegative number equal in numerical value to a given real number.
4. Boolean logic: (a) a branch of statistical theory concerned with quantifying the process of making choices between alternatives; (b) of, relating to, or being a logical combinatorial system that represents symbolically relationships (as those implied by the logical operators AND, OR, and NOT) between entities (as sets, propositions, or on-off computer circuit elements); (c) a doctrine that denies any objective ground of truth and especially of moral truths; (d) a radical contradiction in the import of a text or theory that is seen in deconstruction as inevitable.
5. Freudian slip: (a) a fruitless or mistaken course or direction; (b) dresslike silk undergarment worn by a transvestite; (c) indicative of or resulting from preoccupation or absence of mind; (d) a slip of the tongue that is motivated by and reveals some unconscious aspect of the mind.
6. Veni, vidi, vici: (a) three types of linguini; (b) I came, I saw, I conquered; (c) I studied, I tested, I failed; (d) the last three mayors of Chelsea, Massachusetts.
7. straw man: (a) behavior that operates on the environment to produce rewarding and reinforcing effects; (b) an imaginary or ideal place or situation; (c) a weak or imaginary opposition (as an argument or adversary) set up only to be easily confuted; (d) conventionally or hypothetically assumed or accepted.
8. fait accompli: (a) to happen especially as if by fate; (b) to express approval or give consent: give in to a request or demand; (c) one associated with another especially in wrongdoing; (d) a thing accomplished and presumably irreversible.
9. dead-cat bounce: (a) the letting go or throwing away of something that has become useless or superfluous though often not intrinsically valueless; (b) a brief and insignificant recovery (as of stock prices) after a steep decline; (c) to recover from setback or frustration; (d) the point at which a decline can be attributed.
10. dog's breakfast: (a) an unappealing choice; (b) a confused mess or mixture; (c) a fiercely disputed contest; (d) a trial of a new product in actual situations for which it is intended.
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