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feet of clay

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noun
a weakness or hidden flaw in the character of a greatly admired or respected person: He was disillusioned to find that even Lincoln had feet of clay.
any unexpected or critical fault.
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Origin of feet of clay

First recorded in 1855–60
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use feet of clay in a sentence

Cultural definitions for feet of clay

feet of clay

People are said to have “feet of clay” if they are revealed to have a weakness or flaw that most people were unaware of: “When the coach was arrested for drunken driving, the students realized that their hero had feet of clay.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with feet of clay

feet of clay

A failing or weakness in a person's character, as in The media are always looking for a popular idol's feet of clay. This expression comes from the Bible (Daniel 2:31–33), where the prophet interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream of a statue with a head of gold and feet of iron clay. [c. 1600]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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