Egg of Columbus

An egg of Columbus or Columbus' egg refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact. The expression refers to an apocryphal story in which Christopher Columbus, having been told that discovering the Americas was inevitable and no great accomplishment, challenges his critics to make an egg stand on its tip. After his challengers give up, Columbus does it himself by tapping the egg on the table to flatten its tip.


The story is often alluded to when discussing creativity.[1] The term has also been used as the trade name of puzzles.

Related Terms

A Columbus switch is an automatic extinguishing switch to light staircases, basements, etc. 

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