Word of the Day Archive
Wednesday July 16, 2003
Pyrrhic victory \PIR-ik\
A victory achieved at great or excessive cost; a ruinous victory.
Technically it was a victory for the British, who attacked the patriot fortifications -- but a Pyrrhic victory if ever there was: out of 2,200 British soldiers 1,034 were killed or wounded, including one in nine of all the officers the British lost in the whole war.
-- Geoffrey Wheatcroft, "A Revolutionary Itinerary", The Atlantic, April 2001
Ferguson argued that British involvement in World War I was unnecessary, far too costly in lives and money for any advantage gained, and a Pyrrhic victory that in many ways contributed to the end of the Empire.
-- David Harsanyi, "The Old Order", National Review, May 5, 2003
In short, the Hong Kong government might have won this particular battle against the speculators, just as the Malaysians reckon they have done. But with both administrations' credibility hugely damaged as a result, these are Pyrrhic victories that they may come to rue.
-- "Market intervention: Fashionable", The Economist, September 5, 1998
A Pyrrhic victory is so called after the Greek king Pyrrhus, who, after suffering heavy losses in defeating the Romans in 279 B.C., said to those sent to congratulate him, "Another such victory over the Romans and we are undone."