Pandora's box

Pan·​do·​ra's box | \ pan-ˈdȯr-əz- How to pronounce Pandora's box (audio) \

Definition of Pandora's box

: a prolific source of troubles

Did You Know?

The god Prometheus stole fire from heaven to give to the human race, which originally consisted only of men. To punish humanity, the other gods created the first woman, the beautiful Pandora. As a gift, Zeus gave her a box, which she was told never to open. However, as soon as he was out of sight she took off the lid, and out swarmed all the troubles of the world, never to be recaptured. Only Hope was left in the box, stuck under the lid. Anything that looks ordinary but may produce unpredictable harmful results can thus be called a Pandora's box.

First Known Use of Pandora's box

1579, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for Pandora's box

from the box, sent by the gods to Pandora, which she was forbidden to open and which loosed a swarm of evils upon humankind when she opened it out of curiosity

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Time Traveler for Pandora's box

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The first known use of Pandora's box was in 1579

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Cite this Entry

“Pandora's box.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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Pandora's box


English Language Learners Definition of Pandora's box

: a source of many troubles : something that will lead to many problems

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