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A.Word.A.Day--pyrrhic victory

Pronunciation Sound Clip RealAudio

"One more such victory and we are lost," exclaimed Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, as he described his costly success in the battle of Asculum in Apulia. With those words he gave us a metaphor to refer to a victory so costly that it's barely better than defeat.

If we talk to those who lost their sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, and other loved ones in war, every victory is a Pyrrhic victory. A war is perhaps the only occasion when killing a person is not just accepted but rewarded. If only we could learn to fight wars only with words. Till then, let's look at a few words of war.

Pyrrhic victory (PIR-ik VIK-tuh-ree) noun

A victory won at too great a cost.

[After Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, who suffered staggering losses in defeating the Romans.]

See more usage examples of pyrrhic victory in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

Also see Cadmean victory.

-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)

"With lawsuits multiplying like crazy and mutual accusations of stealing the election spiralling out of control, almost any result now looks as if it will be a Pyrrhic victory."
United States: Whatever Will They Think of Next?; The Economist (London, UK); Nov 25, 2000.

X-Bonus

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., writer (1922-2007)

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