myr·​mi·​don | \ ˈmər-mə-ˌdän How to pronounce myrmidon (audio) , -dən \

Definition of myrmidon

1 capitalized : a member of a legendary Thessalian people who accompanied their king Achilles in the Trojan War
2 : a loyal follower especially : a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously

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Myrmidon and Ants

The Myrmidons, legendary inhabitants of Thessaly in Greece, were known for their fierce devotion to Achilles, the king who led them in the Trojan War. Myrmex means "ant" in Greek, an image that evokes small and insignificant workers mindlessly fulfilling their duties. Whether the original Myrmidons were given their name for that reason is open to question. The "ant" association is strong, however. Some say the name is from a legendary ancestor who once had the form of an ant; others say the Myrmidons were actually transformed from ants. In any case, since the 1400s, we've employed myrmidon in its not-always-complimentary, ant-evoking, figurative sense.

Examples of myrmidon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In the pending merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, our myrmidons have a chance to do better. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "Why the AT&T Case Suddenly Matters," 11 May 2018 OK, first of all, George III didn't have myrmidons. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, "This Week In The Laboratories Of Democracy," 20 Mar. 2014

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'myrmidon.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of myrmidon

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for myrmidon

Middle English Mirmydon, Latin Myrmidon-, Myrmido, from Greek Myrmidōn

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The first known use of myrmidon was in the 15th century

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Cite this Entry

“Myrmidon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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