outside the box

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Probably from the need to draw lines outside the perimeter of the nine dots in the "nine dots" puzzle.

The "nine dots" puzzle. The task is to draw a connected path through all nine dots using only 4 straight lines. Many people try to solve it using an additional, unstated constraint that the lines cannot extend beyond the limits of the outer eight dots.
One of many solutions to the puzzle.

Prepositional phrase[edit]

outside the box

  1. (idiomatic) Beyond the bounds of convention.
    The boss wants some new ideas—it's time to think outside the box.



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See also[edit]