Croe·​sus ˈkrē-səs How to pronounce Croesus (audio)
: a very rich man

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The original Croesus was a 6th-century B.C. king of Lydia, an ancient kingdom in what is now Turkey. Croesus conquered many surrounding regions, grew very wealthy, and became the subject of legends. In one legend, he was visited by Solon, the wise Athenian lawgiver. (Historians say this isn't chronologically possible, but it makes a good story.) Solon supposedly told Croesus, who thought he had everything: "Account no man happy before his death." These words made Croesus angry, and he threw the lawmaker out of his court. Croesus would rethink Solon's pronouncement later when his empire was overthrown by the Persians. Croesus' name shows up in the phrase "rich as Croesus," meaning "filthy rich," and it has also entered English as a generic term for someone extremely wealthy.

Examples of Croesus in a Sentence

if you have to ask the price, you're not the Croesus for whom this palatial yacht is intended

Word History


Croesus, king of Lydia, famed for his wealth

First Known Use

1621, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Croesus was in 1621


Dictionary Entries Near Croesus

Cite this Entry

“Croesus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Biographical Definition


biographical name

Croe·​sus ˈkrē-səs How to pronounce Croesus (audio)
died circa 546 b.c. king of Lydia (circa 560–546)

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