Dam·​o·​cles ˈda-mə-ˌklēz How to pronounce Damocles (audio)
: a courtier of ancient Syracuse held to have been seated at a banquet beneath a sword hung by a single hair
Damoclean adjective

Examples of Damocles in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Extending that pause would remove a Sword of Damocles hanging over Laguna Honda and allow the facility to focus exclusively on working to regain its certification, Roland Pickens, interim chief executive, told the city’s health commission on Tuesday. Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle, 18 Jan. 2023 And the likelihood of a lengthy suspension by the NFL hangs over Mr. Watson and the Browns like the Sword of Damocles. Michael Peregrine, Forbes, 28 June 2022 In the opening pages of The Darkroom of Damocles, also translated by Ina Rilke, a boy named Henri Osewoudt comes home from school one day to learn that his mother has murdered his father and been committed to a mental asylum. Francine Prose, Harper's Magazine, 15 June 2022 Unlike the mythical weapon—suspended by a single hair of a horse’s tail—that the Sicilian King Dionysius II used to teach the envious Damocles about the perils of power, Sutherland’s headset was bolted tightly to his laboratory’s ceiling. Larry Greenemeier, Scientific American, 8 Dec. 2015

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'Damocles.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, from Greek Damoklēs

First Known Use

1578, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of Damocles was in 1578

Dictionary Entries Near Damocles

Cite this Entry

“Damocles.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Damocles. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

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