Is mentor in a box an idiom?

What is the meaning in the following context :

This book is, in a sense, a "mentor in a box," allowing you to benefit from our experiences, both positive and negative...

1 Answer 1


Mentor in a Box is not yet an idiom, but it is a familiar phrase, in part thanks to the many technology entities that make use of it.

The phrase is straightfoward enough: there is a source (a program, website, or book) that attempts to make portable and attainable (as in, out of the box) a substitute for the traditional partnership involved in specialized learning: the mentor-mentee relationship.

For example, this website offers resources that promote mentor-mentee relationships among workforces. On this site, the advice package is called Mentor in a Box.

This IT site not only discusses the Mentor in a Box concept, but also provides a nice bit of Greek Mythology from Homer's The Illiad (lightly edited):

"Mentor was a friend of Odysseus. When Odysseus left for the Trojan War he placed Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus, and his palace. When Telemachus began his quest for his father, Mentor guided him – not in a geographical sense, but in an intellectual sense to instill an understanding on why he had embarked upon his journey and what rewards lay before him.

Today's definition of a mentor is "a wise and trusted counselor or teacher." They provide their expertise to less experienced individuals in order to help them advance their careers, enhance their education, and build their networks.

Many of us who have enjoyed success in our careers can credit much of it to someone taking us "under their wing" and acting as our "wise and trusted teacher."

  • It might be familiar to some English speakers but, it is not familiar to all.
    – Tristan r
    Jan 19, 2014 at 15:51
  • "In a box" is becoming more and more popular. See the computer software "Business in a Box" The idea is that you've taken something complex and smashed it into a compressed, digestible format.
    – Preston
    Jan 20, 2014 at 2:24

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