sword of Damocles


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Related to sword of Damocles: Gordian knot

sword of Damocles

Imminent danger or trouble. In Greek mythology, the courtier Damocles was forced to sit beneath the sword suspended by a single hair to emphasize the instability of a king's fortunes. Usually used in the phrase "a/the sword of Damocles hangs over (one's) (head)."
See also: Damocles, of, sword

sword of Damocles

Also, Damocles' sword. Impending disaster, as in The likelihood of lay-offs has been a sword of Damocles over the department for months. This expression alludes to the legend of Damocles, a servile courtier to King Dionysius I of Syracuse. The king, weary of Damocles' obsequious flattery, invited him to a banquet and seated him under a sword hung by a single hair, so as to point out to him the precariousness of his position. The idiom was first recorded in 1747. The same story gave rise to the expression hang by a thread.
See also: Damocles, of, sword

sword of Damocles

an imminent danger.
When the courtier Damocles described Dionysius I, ruler of Syracuse ( 405–367 bc ), as the happiest of men, Dionysius gave him a graphic demonstration of the fragility of his happiness: he invited Damocles to a banquet, in the middle of which he looked up to see a naked sword suspended over his head by a single hair.
See also: Damocles, of, sword

a/the sword of ˈDamocles

(literary) a bad or unpleasant thing that might happen to you at any time and that makes you feel worried or frightened: Now the news of my divorce is public, I’m relieved in a way. It had been hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles.This expression comes from the Greek legend in which Damocles had to sit at a meal with a sword hanging by a single hair above his head. He had praised King Dionysius’ happiness, and Dionysius wanted him to understand how quickly happiness can be lost.
See also: Damocles, of, sword

sword of Damocles

An imminent and/or constant threat. According to Greek legend, Damocles, a friend of King Dionysius of Syracuse, envied the ruler's great wealth and power. When Damocles told the king how fortunate he was, Dionysius offered to change places for a day. As Damocles dined at the head of the table, he happened to look up. There above his head, held by only a single horsehair, hung a sharp sword pointing downward toward his chair. Frozen with fear that the thread would break, he pointed out the predicament to the king. Dionysius nodded, acknowledging that the sword was a constant factor in his life, an actual and a metaphoric reminder that some person or circumstance might at any time cut the thread. Such risk, the king added, comes as an integral part of power. Any ever-present risk, especially one that's hanging by a thread, is how the phrase has been used.
See also: Damocles, of, sword
References in periodicals archive ?
And because she knows about the stolen money, she's holding the Sword of Damocles over him.
And, of course, the al-Sadr rebellion in Najaf hung over the conference like the sword of Damocles.
Don't make us read the footnotes to find out that the sword of Damocles hovers over your neck.
Bankruptcy is the Sword of Damocles hanging over the head of the Anglican Church of Canada.
Defining events of 2000: The big question mark, or perhaps Sword of Damocles would be a better description, is Y2K hanging over all of us, and the subsequent wave or avalanche or, hopefully, only a trickle of litigation, especially in the United States.
Absent reasonable guidance, section 7701(l) will hang over taxpayers like a sword of Damocles, threatening to crash down on sound, as well as abusive, arrangements.
When you are a member of the Politburo, your personal physician is obliged to examine you every day, but a lack of professional and personal freedom hangs over him like a sword of Damocles.
New Zealanders are not alone in their conviction that the American nuclear deterrent is a sword of Damocles rather than a protective umbrella.
He, while addressing the inaugural session of the Summit of All Pakistan Women Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that when the sword of Damocles hangs over the democratic system, its effects were not only seen on the parliament but became visible all over the country.
Still, all these years, the case has continuously been hanging over the heads of defendants like the sword of Damocles,' his motion read in part.
In the international economic downturn, the decline in domestic demand, the China Petrochemical comprehensive focus on innovation, quality and efficiency, to the way structural adjustment battle, and to develop new markets, innovation efficiency has become the company's refining pin sword of Damocles .
The Celtic's fans' regular misconduct in Europe must be hanging over the club like the sword of Damocles.
We have seen draconian cuts in government spending causing widespread poverty, yet, like an economic Sword of Damocles hanging over us, we have been warned that worse is to come.
Dai Davies, chief executive of Hybu Cig Cymru (HCC) - Meat Promotion Wales, said: "It is not an exaggeration to say that the sword of Damocles is hanging over the beef industry.
Now a ship without a rudder With Strasbourg at the helm Manners respect and courtesy All cast overboard Leaving anger malice and envy And national discord Before these stormy waters Plain sailing was the way Fond memories of a happy ship Anchored safely in the bay Economics may be a factor The cost of living isn't a breeze Debt hanging ominously above us A fiscal Sword of Damocles Disenchanted children Squandering youth on video games The great outdoors no longer calls Obsessed with celebrity and fame Amid the corridors of power Faceless suits not held to account Looking on as society corrodes Problems difficult to surmount Complex rules and regulations Health and safety there's no escape Innovations to improve our plight Strangled by bureaucracy and red tape Do calmer seas lie ahead?
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