Word of the Day: Pyrrhic

By Daniel Scocco

Pyrrhic (p1r’1k), the noun, is a metrical unit. It is used more widely as an adjective, however, as in “pyrrhic victory,” which means a victory with huge costs. It makes reference to Pyrrhus from Epirus, who sustained great losses in order to defeat the Roman army.

Mr Murdoch has, however, paid a high price for Dow Jones—at least $1 billion, and perhaps $2 billion more than appears justified by the fundamentals of the business—so News Corporation’s shareholders may come to regard his victory as pyrrhic. (The Economist)

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6 Responses to “Word of the Day: Pyrrhic”

  • Roshawn

    Whenever I hear that word it’s always attached to the word “victory.” Can it be used as an adjective with any other word?

    Nice word! 🙂

  • Vijay

    It is most commonly used with Victory simply because you pay a lot to win. Not only do you sustain losses but also the profit from the victory is probably more than what you spent to get it.

  • Daniel

    Good question. Perhaps you can also say “pyrrhic battle” or “pyrrhic attempt.”

  • barak

    But what does it basically mean? Does it mean “something that has a great cost to it”?

    Thanks

  • Maeve Maddox

    Barak,
    Yes, the victory is won, but the victor has lost a great deal in order to accomplish it. King Pyrrhus lost so many of his men that he is said to have remarked:

    “one more such victory would utterly undo me.”

  • Barak

    Thank you Maeve Maddox.

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