Augean stable


Definition of Augean stable

: a condition or place marked by great accumulation of filth or corruption

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Augean stable most often appears in the phrase "clean the Augean stable," which usually means "clear away corruption" or "perform a large and unpleasant task that has long called for attention." Augeas, the mythical king of Elis, kept great stables that held 3,000 oxen and had not been cleaned for thirty years - until Hercules was assigned the job. Hercules accomplished this task by causing two rivers to run through the stables. The word Augean is sometimes used by itself, too - it has come to mean "extremely difficult and usually distasteful." We can refer to "Augean tasks," "Augean labor," or even "Augean clutter."

Examples of Augean stable in a Sentence

as a gubernatorial candidate he claimed that the state capitol was an Augean stable that desperately needed to be cleaned out

First Known Use of Augean stable

1610, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of Augean stable was in 1610

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Cite this Entry

“Augean stable.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 18 January 2020.

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