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Roman holiday

noun
1.
a public spectacle or controversy marked by barbarism, vindictiveness, or scandal.
2.
pleasure or advantage gained from the discomfort or suffering of others.
Origin
1885-1890
1885-90
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for roman-holiday

Roman holiday

noun
1.
entertainment or pleasure that depends on the suffering of others
Word Origin
C19: from Byron's poem Childe Harold (IV, 141)
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
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Word Origin and History for roman-holiday

Roman holiday

n.

"occasion on which entertainment or profit is derived from injury or death," 1860, originally in reference to holidays for gladiatorial combat; the expression seems to be entirely traceable to an oft-quoted passage on a dying barbarian gladiator from the fourth canto (1818) of Byron's "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage":

But where his rude hut by the Danube lay
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother. He, their sire,
Butcher'd to make a Roman holiday!

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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