feet of clay

noun
1.
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.
2.
any unexpected or critical fault.

Origin:
1855–60

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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

feet of clay definition


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 American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Half the apparent geniuses turn out to have feet of clay.
The disappointment of finding out that one of your heroes has feet of clay.
Without a strong capacity for innovation and creativity, even a giant has feet
  of clay.
If you pardon my language, it's good to know our saint has feet of clay.
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