A Metaphor That Runneth Over

By John Kelly
Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Holy Grail of grails must be the cup that Jesus Christ allegedly drank from at the Last Supper. In other words, the Holy Grail.

Good luck finding it. It's a lot easier to find the Holy Grail used as a metaphor. Writers love to invoke that miraculous goblet to describe a rare object or a near-unattainable goal.

We all have our Holy Grails, that thing we desire above all else. Sometimes that desire is relatively commonplace, barely deserving of the "Holy Grail" name. Sometimes, it's rather more obscure.

Here are a few dozen Holy Grails, as described in the pages of The Washington Post in the past few years:

The Holy Grail of amateur golfers: conquering par.

The Holy Grail of Madison Avenue: 18- to 34-year-old viewers.

The Holy Grail of plastic surgery: the world's first full-face transplant.

The Holy Grail of horticulture: the foolproof hydrangea.

The Holy Grail of the Internet: profitable advertising.

The Holy Grail of AIDS treatment: a single, fixed-dose pill.

The Holy Grail for Northern Virginia commuters: extending Metrorail through Tysons Corner.

The Holy Grail of running: the four-minute mile.

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