Achilles' heel


Definition of Achilles' heel

: a vulnerable point

Synonyms for Achilles' heel


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When the hero Achilles was an infant, his sea-nymph mother dipped him into the river Styx to make him immortal. But since she held him by one heel, this spot did not touch the water and so remained mortal and vulnerable, and it was here that Achilles was eventually mortally wounded. Today, the tendon that stretches up the calf from the heel is called the Achilles tendon. But the term Achilles' heel isn't used in medicine; instead, it's only used with the general meaning "weak point"—for instance, to refer to a section of a country's borders that aren't militarily protected, or to a Jeopardy contestant's ignorance in the Sports category.

Examples of Achilles' heel in a Sentence

I'm trying to lose weight, but ice cream is my Achilles' heel. the food supply proved to be the nation's Achilles' heel in its defense against terrorist attacks

First Known Use of Achilles' heel

1840, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Achilles' heel

from the story that Achilles was vulnerable only in the heel

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The first known use of Achilles' heel was in 1840

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Dictionary Entries Near Achilles' heel


Achilles' heel

Achilles notch

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Cite this Entry

“Achilles' heel.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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