dragon's teeth

plural noun

1
: seeds of strife
2
: wedge-shaped concrete antitank barriers laid in multiple rows

Did you know?

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne's child, Pearl, "never created a friend, but seemed always to be sowing broadcast the dragon's teeth, whence sprung a harvest of armed enemies, against whom she rushed to battle." In Hawthorne and elsewhere, "dragon's teeth" alludes to a story involving Cadmus, the legendary Phoenician hero reputed to have founded Thebes and invented the alphabet. The tale holds that Cadmus killed a dragon and planted its teeth in the ground. From the teeth sprang fierce armed men who battled one another until all were dead but five. These founded the noblest families of Thebes and helped build its citadel.

Word History

Etymology

from the dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus which sprang up as armed warriors who killed one another off

First Known Use

1692, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of dragon's teeth was in 1692

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Dictionary Entries Near dragon's teeth

Cite this Entry

“Dragon's teeth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dragon%27s%20teeth. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

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