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Damocles

[dam-uh-kleez]
noun
  1. 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.
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Idioms
  1. sword of Damocles, any situation threatening imminent harm or disaster.
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Related formsDam·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. 2018

Examples from the Web for damoclean

Historical Examples

  • It also directed pocket-sized trackers of its own Damoclean beam.

    Zero Data

    Charles Saphro

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

    The Golden Face

    William Le Queux


British Dictionary definitions for damoclean

Damocles

noun
  1. 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
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Derived FormsDamoclean, 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

Word Origin and History for damoclean

Damocles

courtier of Dionysius I, tyrant of Syracuse; his name in Greek means literally "fame of the people," from demos, damos "people" (see demotic) + -kles "fame," a common ending in Greek proper names (e.g. Sophocles, Pericles), from PIE *klew-es, from root *kleu- "to hear" (see listen). To teach Damocles how a tyrant lives, Dionysius seated him at a banquet with a sword suspended above his head by a single hair.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper