To thread your way….


For example, to thread your way through a crowd. This a lovely old phrase dating back to the mid 16th century. Back then the good and the great would entertain themselves for hours in a new , rather modern puzzle called mazes. However, many people soon realised it was just as hard to find their way out of a maze as it was to reach the centre. Some adopted the practice of taking a clew (a cheap yarn or thread) and fixing one end at the beginning, enabling them to find their way back out again and that lead to the term ‘threading your way through’. But this wasn’t a new trick, even back then.

It was borrowed from the ancient Greek myth in which Theseus finds his way back out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth after slaying the beast, by using a ‘clew’ of thread. A slight variation of the word ‘clew’ led to ‘clue’ becoming used in modern English language as the term for anything helping to unravel puzzles or mysteries. The word ‘maze’ itself stems from the word ‘amazing’, which was used to describe this popular new game.

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