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Pyrrhic victory

noun
  1. a victory or goal achieved at too great a cost.
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Origin of Pyrrhic victory

1880–85; < Greek Pyrrikós; after a remark attributed by Plutarch to Pyrrhus, who declared, after a costly victory over the Romans, that another similar victory would ruin him
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for pyrrhic victory

Pyrrhic victory

noun
  1. a victory in which the victor's losses are as great as those of the defeatedAlso called: Cadmean victory
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Word Origin for Pyrrhic victory

named after Pyrrhus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum in 279 bc but suffered heavy losses
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

pyrrhic victory in Culture

Pyrrhic victory

[(peer-ik)]

A victory that is accompanied by enormous losses and leaves the winners in as desperate shape as if they had lost. Pyrrhus was an ancient general who, after defeating the Romans, told those who wished to congratulate him, “One more such victory and Pyrrhus is undone.”

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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.

Idioms and Phrases with pyrrhic victory

Pyrrhic victory

A victory that is offset by staggering losses, as in The campaign was so divisive that even though he won the election it was a Pyrrhic victory. This expression alludes to Kind Pyrrhus of Epirus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum in b.c. 279, but lost his best officers and many of his troops. Pyrrhus then said: “Another such victory and we are lost.” In English the term was first recorded (used figuratively) in 1879.

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