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.
"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." The servant remounted the stairs to give the message to the doctor, and the moment she was out of sight the tailor and his wife carried the body swiftly after her, propped it up at the top of the staircase, and ran home as fast as their legs could carry them.
"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.
He also had lived and died a sick man. Every day he arose with a cheerful face, but by ten o'clock in the morning all the joy had gone out of his heart.
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.
His eyes alone acquired a more brilliant luster from this auxiliary, and upon those sick man's eyes were, from time to time, turned the uneasy looks of the king, the queen, and the courtiers.
Simmonds shook hands silently with Philip, and then with professional gravity went to the sick man's side.
'Damn!' 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. "Sir," says he, "I believe I can fit you.
When informed of this the sick man said in anger: "Then I'll be damned if I die!"
With the wantonness of a sick man's fancy, he likened it to the mighty cry of some Titan of the Elder World vexed with misery or wrath.
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.