Draconian comes from Draco, the name of a 7th-century B.C. Athenian legislator who created a written code of law. Draco's code was intended to clarify preexistent laws, but its severity is what made it really memorable. In Draco's code, even minor offenses were punishable by death, and failure to pay one's debts could result in slavery. Draconian, as a result, became associated with things cruel or harsh. Something draconian need not always be as cruel as the laws in Draco's code, though - today the word is used in a wide variety of ways and often refers to measures (steep parking fines, for example) that are relatively minor when compared with the death penalty.
Examples of draconian in a Sentence
The editorial criticizes the draconian measures being taken to control the spread of the disease.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'draconian.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.