process of elimination

"Process of elimination" is a method of solving a problem or deciding something. It means taking out all of the choices that are not possible, so that only the good choices are left. On a multiple-choice test question, you can usually use "process of elimination" to get rid of some answers which are obviously not possible. That allows you to find the correct answer more easily or to make an educated guess.

Test-taking is the topic that people most commonly use "process of elimination" to talk about, but it can also be used in other situations in which someone is trying to figure something out. For example:

  • The detective Sherlock Holmes used process of elimination to solve mysteries in a series of detective novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • If you're trying to fix a broken computer, you might try to fix it using process of elimination: replacing one part at a time to see where the problem is.

The word "through" often works together with the phrase "process of elimination". The meaning is similar to "with" or "using":

I've picked three candidates through process of elimination.

A lot of people were able to guess the names of the winners through process of elimination.

Notice that "process of elimination" doesn't use "the" or "a". It's just "process of elimination".

This phrase appears in these lessons: