a pass in E Greece, between the cliffs of Mt. Oeta and the Gulf of Lamia: Persian defeat of the Spartans 480 b.c. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for thermopylae

Contemporary Examples of thermopylae

  • Foreign-policy experts rush to compare Libya to Bosnia, the Punic Wars, Iraq, Kosovo, Thermopylae, and so forth.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Horrible Libya Hypocrisies

    Leslie H. Gelb

    March 21, 2011

Historical Examples of thermopylae

British Dictionary definitions for thermopylae



(in ancient Greece) a narrow pass between the mountains and the sea linking Locris and Thessaly: a defensible position on a traditional invasion route from N Greece; scene of a famous battle (480 bc) in which a greatly outnumbered Greek army under Leonidas fought to the death to delay the advance of the Persians during their attempted conquest of Greece
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 thermopylae


from Greek thermos "hot" (see thermal) + pylai, plural of pyle "gate; mountain pass, entrance into a region" (see pylon). In reference to nearby hot sulfur springs. Often simply hai pylai "the gates."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper