Phrase "A three pipe problem"


I came across an interesting sentence running like this:

It’s quite a three pipe problem.

What do you make of it?

Hi Haihao

Without any context, it doesn’t mean much.

However, if you know that Sherlock Holmes said “It is quite a three pipe problem, and I beg that you won’t speak to me for fifty minutes.” then I would guess that Sherlock meant that he would need some time to think about the problem, and the time needed would be about the same as the time it would take him to smoke three pipes.

Hi Haihao,

I remember seeing a film a long time ago set in Greece during World War 2 when some secret agents were planning to capture a German General. They asked a local how long it would take to walk a certain distance and the reply came: Oh, about one cigarette.


Hi Amy,

Thank you so very much and you are so…, great! I ran into it here: … oblem.html where the phrase is related to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Although I had my guess I still wanted to make sure.


Hi Alan,

Thank you very much too for the film episode, which made the expression even more variable, vivid and clearer of usage.