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May 20, 2010
This week's theme
Whose what?

This week's words
Ockham's razor
Morton's fork
Hobson's choice
Achilles' heel
St. Elmo's fire

Achilles, a sculpture on the Greek island of Corfu
Dying Achilles, a sculpture on the Greek island of Corfu, 1884
Sculptor: Ernst Herter (1846-1917)

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Achilles' heel

PRONUNCIATION:
(uh-KIL-eez heel)

MEANING:
noun: A seemingly small but critical weakness in an otherwise strong position.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Achilles, a hero in the Greek mythology. When Achilles was a baby, his mother Thetis dipped him into the magical river Styx to make him invincible. She held him by the heel which remained untouched by the water and became his weak point. He was killed when the Trojan prince Paris shot an arrow that pierced his one vulnerable spot: his heel. After him, the tendon in the lower back of the ankle is also known as the Achilles tendon.

USAGE:
"Economics, once the Coalition's strength, is in danger of becoming its achilles heel."
Laurie Oakes; Coalition Weak on Economics; Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia); Apr 3, 2010.

See more usage examples of Achilles' heel in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Though I have been trained as a soldier, and participated in many battles, there never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword. I look forward to an epoch when a court, recognized by all nations, will settle international differences. -Ulysses S. Grant, military commander, 18th US President (1822-1885)

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