Can someone please explain the meaning and usage of

"Turtles all the way down"

in simple words? I read Wikipedia and have some level of understanding of it but was hoping someone would make it more clear here. For instance, I would like to know if this expression is used on a day to day conversation? Is this expression understood by all native English speakers regardless of their specific knowledge of the background of the phrase?


1 Answer 1


The phrase is usually used to describe any system that appears to have dependencies that never end.

  • 2
    Do native speakers understand its meaning? Could you use this expression in a shop, at work, at a dinner, etc. and be understood? Is it an idiom? I think it's a geeky expression that your ordinary man on the street will be unfamiliar with, but that's just me guessing.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 27, 2018 at 8:53
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    It is from a humorous story about the cosmology of the world. Many speakers would recognize the reference.
    – TimR
    Jun 27, 2018 at 9:18

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