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
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.
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 am a sick man; a very sick man, Hump," he said, as he left my sustaining grip and sank into a chair.
Later she wondered if the hours alone with the sick man had not led to her decision to marry.
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.
Outsiders are allowed five-minute speeches," the sick man urged.
Go, my young sirs," said the sick man, "and may you both be blessed for your piety.
The sick man was lying with his face turned towards the wall; and as he took no heed of my presence, I had leisure to observe the place in which I found myself.
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.
He immediately took the only method of silencing this thorough bass, whose music he feared might disturb Mr Allworthy; and then sitting down by the nurse, he remained motionless till Blifil and the doctor came in together and waked the sick man, in order that the doctor might feel his pulse, and that the other might communicate to him that piece of news, which, had Jones been apprized of it, would have had great difficulty of finding its way to Mr Allworthy's ear at such a season.
When a truckle-bed with a sick man (some invalided agent from up-country) was put in there, he exhibited a gentle annoyance.
More; he irritated it, with a kind of perverse pleasure akin to that which a sick man sometimes has in irritating a wound upon his body.
I saw certain connection between the illness of one of the crew and the events of the day before; and this mystery interested me at least as much as the sick man.
Then began as grim a tragedy of existence as was ever played - a sick man that crawled, a sick wolf that limped, two creatures dragging their dying carcasses across the desolation and hunting each other's lives.
muttered the sick man between his teeth, and writhing impatiently in his bed.