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Word of the Day
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Definitions for myrmidon

  1. a person who executes without question or scruple a master's commands.
  2. Classical Mythology. (initial capital letter) one of the warlike people of ancient Thessaly who accompanied Achilles to the Trojan War.

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Citations for myrmidon
... you order me to do that; you order me to do everything; but the time's past when I obeyed you like a Myrmidon. Booth Tarkington, Women, 1925
The reign of the emperor is ending, but Marsh refuses to comply and serve as a myrmidon. Jerome Groopman, "'Do No Harm,' by Henry Marsh," New York Times, May 21, 2015
Origin of myrmidon
Myrmidon (Greek Myrmidṓn) in Greek myth was the son of Zeus and Eurymedusa, whom Zeus seduced disguised as an ant. Her son was called Myrmidon (by an ancient, false etymology from mýrmēx, the ancient Greek word for “ant”) and was regarded as the ancestor of the Myrmidons, a tribe in Thessaly whose warriors followed Achilles to Troy. There is no hint of thuggery or blind obedience or sycophancy in the ancient sources, all of which are modern developments from the mid-17th century. Greek mýrmēx is related to the obsolete English noun mire “ant,” still present in pismire. The word entered English in the 15th century and referred to the Trojan War.