I always wondered why these adages are called 'razor', and if there is another meaning to razor than the one related to shaving or the razor blade:

Occam's razor

Hanlon's razor

  • Were all those tags really there, or were they created for this Q? Just wondering.
    – Kris
    Jan 4, 2014 at 5:48
  • 1
  • The answer is a close neighbor of the question, it seems.
    – Kris
    Jan 4, 2014 at 5:50
  • I just wrote those tags thinking of them more like keywords... They are probably wrong. Can we delete them? Jan 4, 2014 at 14:29

1 Answer 1


They are called "razors" because they are a method of simplifying the analytic process of determining the cause (Occam) or intent (Hanlon) of an action or event, much like a butcher would use a blade to separate the unwanted fat, which just gets in the way, from the delicious, and desired meat. The razor was probably selected by the idiom to imply that the idea was a "sharp" (i. e. effective) tool to use in one's analysis.

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    One would tend to think so, but is there anything to support this supposition?
    – Kris
    Jan 4, 2014 at 6:10
  • The most immediately to hand suggestion I have for a reference is the Wikipedia page you cite above in a comment, but it doesn't delve as deeply into etymological speculation as I have.
    – DopeGhoti
    Jan 4, 2014 at 6:12
  • Sh! Speculation is off topic. Lol!
    – Kris
    Jan 4, 2014 at 6:24
  • Speculation is not completely offtopic to me. I speak english as a foreign language and sometimes I lack the simplest definitions and am not capable of even speculating as a native speaker. Jan 4, 2014 at 14:32
  • See this reference. No great depth, but a modest support of a logical analysis.
    – bib
    Jan 4, 2014 at 22:11

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