"Connecring the dots": origin?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon May 3 23:42:00 UTC 2010

At 6:46 PM -0400 5/3/10, Wilson Gray wrote:
>When I was a child, there was a popular game called "dots." You put
>parallel lines of equal numbers of dots onto a sheet of paper. The
>number of lines was a function of the patience of the person drawing
>up the "board." The game was played by connecting the dots, drawing
>only one line at a time. Neither player "owned" the lines, so that A
>could draw a line to connect a dot to which B had already drawn a line
>to make a connection. The point of the game was to be the one who was
>able to make the most squares by connecting the dots. A put "A" into
>his squares and B put "B" into his, to keep track.
>There were also puzzle-drawing for kids that involved connecting
>seemingly randomly-placed, numbered dots in such a way as to draw some
>figure by connecting the dots in mumerical order.
>I'm not suggesting that *either* of these games is the source of the
>phrase, "connecting the dots." They're just two games that I know of
>that involve connecting the dots and which come to mind whenever I
>hear talk of "connecting the dots."
>Does anyone know the actual source of the phrase? BTW, I don't really
>care. I'm just randomly wondering.
We played that first game in NYC; I'd totally forgotten it.  It was a
variant of another game called "Territories". I remember both fondly.
The second, puzzle-drawing exercise was a lot less exciting, but I
always associated the "connect the dots" metaphor (as in the
blamecasting post 9-11) with that one.  But it's nice to be reminded
me of that first one!


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