the sick man of (something or somewhere)

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the sick man of (something or somewhere)

Something or some place that is particularly unsound, untenable, or doomed to fail, especially among or in comparison to its peers. Due in large part to several tumultuous years of indecision in its parliament, Greece has been the sick man of Europe since the global recession began. The banking giant, which once propped up the entire country, has now become the sick man of the economy in recent years.
See also: man, of, sick

the sick man of —

a country that is politically or economically unsound, especially in comparison with its neighbours in the region specified.
In the late 19th century, following a reported comment by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia about the moribund state of the Turkish empire, the Sultan of Turkey was described as the Sick Man of Europe . The term was later extended to Turkey itself and subsequently applied to other countries.
1992 Independent He vilified the West as ‘the sick man of the modern world’ and attacked its institutions as ‘the dictatorship of the majority dressed up as democracy’.
See also: man, of, sick
References in classic literature ?
He now approached the sick man with the noiseless step of one in full vigor of life, with his delicate white fingers raised from the green quilt the hand that was free, and turning sideways felt the pulse and reflected a moment.
The sick man was so surrounded by doctors, princesses, and servants that Pierre could no longer see the reddish-yellow face with its gray mane- which, though he saw other faces as well, he had not lost sight of for a single moment during the whole service.
Tell your master," said the tailor, "that we have brought a very sick man for him to cure; and," he added, holding out some money, "give him this in advance, so that he may not feel he is wasting his time.
I have killed the sick man whom they brought me; and if the sacred Ass of Esdras does not come to my aid I am lost
I am a sick man; a very sick man, Hump," he said, as he left my sustaining grip and sank into a chair.
If she read that the heroine of the novel was nursing a sick man, she longed to move with noiseless steps about the room of a sick man; if she read of a member of Parliament making a speech, she longed to be delivering the speech; if she read of how Lady Mary had ridden after the hounds, and had provoked her sister-in-law, and had surprised everyone by her boldness, she too wished to be doing the same.
Later she wondered if the hours alone with the sick man had not led to her decision to marry.
Toward evening the balloon remained stationary in the midst of the gloom, and during the night, while Kennedy and Joe relieved each other in carefully tending the sick man, Ferguson kept watch over the safety of all.
It was a stagnation in which, full of pity for him, Anne of Austria would not have willingly left him; but in order to attract the attention of the sick man by some brilliant stroke, she must have either won or lost.
The sick man turned his head a little and greeted him with a smile.
muttered the sick man between his teeth, and writhing impatiently in his bed.
If anything could make a sick man get well quickly, it would be the knowledge that he must drink a glassful of them every day until he was recovered.
Now as he had his wit (to use that word in its common signification) always ready, he bethought himself of making his advantage of this humour in the sick man.
The sick man laid his hand upon his attendant's arm, and motioned him to stop.
Robinson was down to the end of the town a-hunting together -- that is, I mean the doctor was shipping a sick man to t'other world, and the preacher was pinting him right.