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A.Word.A.Day--Maginot line

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Maginot line (MAZH-uh-no lyn) noun

An ineffective line of defense that is relied upon with undue confidence.

[After André Maginot (1877-1932), French Minister of War, who proposed a line of defense along France's border with Germany. Believed to be impregnable, the barrier proved to be of little use when Germans attacked through Belgium in 1940.]

"France has no shortage of linguistic generals who seek to regiment French and see an enemy lurking behind every new word or phrase. Yet what security do they bring? Franglais continues to infiltrate French ranks, despite a Maginot line of laws, word-vetting committees and diktats from the Academie Francaise."
Ado Cherche Appart, The Economist (London), May 11, 1996.

"Absent some sober rethinking, forward engagement is likely to produce an American Maginot Line around Asia's rim, as myopic demands to stay there automatically lead to costly missile defenses."
Paul Bracken, America's Maginot Line, The Atlantic Monthly (Boston), Dec 1998.

This week's theme: eponyms.


Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. -Abraham Lincoln, U.S. president (1809-1865)

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