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Today's Word



Jun 14, 2019
This week’s theme
People who have had multiple words coined after them

This week’s words
Socratic method
Midas touch
Achilles' heel

Achilles' heel
Goddess Thetis dipping her son Achilles in the River Styx (detail)
Art: Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1625

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People with multiple eponyms coined after them
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with Anu Garg

Achilles’ heel or Achilles heel

(uh-KIL-eez heel)

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

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. Earliest documented use: 1705.

The tendon connecting the calf muscles of the leg to the heel bone is called Achilles tendon. The actor Brad Pitt played Achilles in the 2004 film Troy and tore his left Achilles tendon during production. Talk about taking a role seriously!

“The danger of being seen as courting noxious supporters is a long-standing worry for right-of-centre politicians. Preston Manning ... has argued that it is the Achilles heel of the conservative movement.”
John Geddes & Jason Markusoff; Target Andrew Scheer; Maclean’s (Toronto, Canada); Jun 2019.

See more usage examples of achille’s heel in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

The longest day must have its close -- the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning. An eternal, inexorable lapse of moments is ever hurrying the day of the evil to an eternal night, and the night of the just to an eternal day. -Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and novelist (14 Jun 1811-1896)

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