[ dam-uh-kleez ]
/ ˈdæm əˌkliz /


a flatterer who, having extolled the happiness of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, was seated at a banquet with a sword suspended over his head by a single hair to show him the perilous nature of that happiness.


    sword of Damocles, any situation threatening imminent harm or disaster.

Related forms

Dam·o·cle·an [dam-uh-klee-uh n] /ˌdæm əˈkli ən/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for damoclean

  • The Damoclean sword had apparently fallen upon the Squire of Overstow.

    The Golden Face|William Le Queux
  • It also directed pocket-sized trackers of its own Damoclean beam.

    Zero Data|Charles Saphro

British Dictionary definitions for damoclean


/ (ˈdæməˌkliːz) /


classical myth a sycophant forced by Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, to sit under a sword suspended by a hair to demonstrate that being a king was not the happy state Damocles had said it wasSee also Sword of Damocles

Derived Forms

Damoclean, adjective
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012