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Elementary, my dear Watson

A phrase often attributed to Sherlock Holmes, the English detective in the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Holmes supposedly says this to his amazed companion, Dr. Watson, as he explains his reasoning in solving a crime. Though these precise words are never used in the Holmes stories, something like them appears in the story “The Crooked Man”: “‘Excellent!’ I [Watson] cried. ‘Elementary,’ said he.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.