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Word of the Day
Thursday, January 05, 2017

Definitions for draconian

  1. rigorous; unusually severe or cruel: Draconian forms of punishment.
  2. (initial capital letter) of, relating to, or characteristic of the Athenian statesman Draco, or his severe code of laws.

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Citations for draconian
Foreigners find mystifying the amount of mayhem permitted in the United States despite ever more draconian laws against something loosely called terrorism. Gore Vidal, "Clinton–Gore II," The Last Empire: Essays 1992–2000, 2000
Last month in Kathmandu, I spoke with five young Tibetans who had just journeyed across the Himalayas to escape draconian policies imposed by the Beijing government in their homeland. Jon Krakauer, "Why Is Nepal Cracking Down on Tibetan Refugees?" The New Yorker, December 28, 2011
Origin of draconian
Draconian refers to Draco, the Athenian lawgiver who according to ancient tradition had the laws of Athens written down and introduced new laws, perhaps in 621/620 b.c.e. Draco’s criminal laws were severe; most crimes were punished by death. Asked why the punishments were so extreme, Draco answered that small crimes deserved the death penalty and that he could think of no harsher penalty for major crimes. The Athenian statesman Solon repealed all of Draco’s laws except those on homicide, possibly in 594/3 b.c.e. The word entered English in the 18th century.