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blunt instrument




blunt instrument (plural blunt instruments)

  1. (literally) An object lacking sharp surfaces, especially as used to cause injury.
    • 1851, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, "The Murdered Cousin":
      One deep wound had been inflicted upon the temple, apparently with some blunt instrument, which had penetrated the brain.
    • 1913, Sax Rohmer, chapter 8, in The Insidious Dr. Fu Manchu:
      It had been struck by some heavy blunt instrument, but the skull was not broken.
  2. (figuratively) A thing, person, method, or resource which is not sufficiently precise or not sufficiently effective for its intended role or use.
    • 1987, Iris Murdoch, in John Haffenden, Novelists in Interview, →ISBN, p. 202:
      The analyst is in a sense a blunt instrument, but he can work as somebody who cares, and I think a good analyst makes the patient feel that he has value.
    • 2003 May 5, Aisha Labi, "The Runaway Bride," Time:
      The law is a woefully blunt instrument when it comes to domestic violence of all kinds.
    • 2008 Jan. 12, "Passing The Devalued Buck," Newsweek (retrieved 12 June 2011):
      [T]he United States will continue to rely on dollar depreciation as a blunt instrument to fight all its economic battles.
    • 2011 Jan. 29, Scott Shane, "Spotlight Again Falls on Web Tools and Change," New York Times (retrieved 12 June 2011):
      If Mr. Mubarak's Egypt has resorted to the traditional blunt instrument against dissent in a crisis — cutting off communications altogether — other countries have shown greater sophistication.