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A.Word.A.Day--Rubicon

Pronunciation RealAudio

Rubicon (ROO-bi-kon) noun

A point of no return, one where an action taken commits a person irrevocably.

[Contrary to popular belief, Caesar salad is not named after Julius Caesar. But today's term does have a connection to him. In 49 BCE, Caesar crossed the Rubicon, a small river that formed the boundary between Cisalpine Gaul and Italy. As he crossed the river into Italy, he exclaimed "iacta alea est" (the die is cast) knowing well that his action signified a declaration of war with Rome. Today when an action marks a situation where there is no going back, we say the Rubicon has been crossed.]

"The age-old Labour debate between universal and means-tested social benefits is being decisively resolved in favour of means-testing. Tony Blair's government has indeed crossed the Rubicon."
The Universal Means Test; The Economist (London); Mar 6, 1999.

"Why should one not say, for example, that the defendants in Boyle 'crossed the Rubicon' and were thus guilty of attempted burglary when they attacked the door of the house which they intended to burgle ..."
R.A. Duff; Criminal Attempts; Oxford University; 1996.

This week's theme: toponyms, or words derived from the names of places.

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