Pyrrhic victory

Pyrrhic victory

noun
a victory or goal achieved at too great a cost.
Compare Cadmean victory.


Origin:
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

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World English Dictionary
Pyrrhic victory
 
n
Also called: Cadmean victory a victory in which the victor's losses are as great as those of the defeated
 
[named after Pyrrhus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum in 279 bc but suffered heavy losses]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
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.”

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

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 a.d. 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.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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