Wordsmith.Org


A.Word.A.Day

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  


Home

Today's Word

Yesterday's Word

Archives

FAQ


Feb 17, 2009
This week's theme
Whose what?

This week's words
fool's gold
sword of Damocles
mug's game
dog's age
God's acre

Today's word in
Visual Thesaurus

Sword of Damocles
The Sword of Damocles An oil painting by Richard Westall
(Ackland Art Museum)

Discuss
Feedback
RSS/XML
A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

sword of Damocles

PRONUNCIATION:
(sord uhv DAM-uh-kleez)

MEANING:
noun: An ever-present threat; an impending disaster.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Damocles of Greek legend. Damocles was a courtier who flattered the ruler Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, to excess. The fulsome praise so annoyed the king that he decided to teach him a lesson. He held a banquet in honor of Damocles but when Damocles saw the sword hanging by a single horse-hair over his head, he lost all taste for the lavish feast. He realized that even those who appear to enjoy great fortune face fears and worries. By the way, the word impending literally means hanging over.

USAGE:
"Roth said, 'The threat of an audit ... looms like the sword of Damocles over the heads of taxpayers.'"
IRS Chief Wants to Balance Service, Enforcement; The Advocate (Stamford, Connecticut); Feb 13, 2009.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. -Eleanor Roosevelt, diplomat and author (1884-1962)

Subscribe:

Sign up to receive A.Word.A.Day in your mailbox every day.

"The most welcomed, most enduring piece of daily mass e-mail in cyberspace."

The New York Times

Sponsored by:

Give the Gift of Words

Share the magic of words. Send a gift subscription of A.Word.A.Day.

Anu on Words:
Writer Magazine
Globe & Mail

Interact:

Bulletin board
Wordsmith Talk

Moderated Chat
Wordsmith Chat

Readers' Voice
AWADmail

Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 2014 Wordsmith