pro·​crus·​te·​an prə-ˈkrə-stē-ən How to pronounce procrustean (audio)
often capitalized
: of, relating to, or typical of Procrustes
: marked by arbitrary often ruthless disregard of individual differences or special circumstances

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Procrustes was one of many villains defeated by the Greek hero Theseus. According to Greek mythology, Procrustes was a robber who killed his victims in a most cruel and unusual way. He made them lie on an iron bed and would force them to fit the bed by cutting off the parts that hung off the ends or by stretching those people who were too short. Something Procrustean, therefore, takes no account of individual differences but cruelly and mercilessly makes everything the same. And a "procrustean bed" is a scheme or pattern into which someone or something is arbitrarily forced.

Examples of procrustean in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Everything made sense, and the procrustean constraints of gender fell away. Laura Hudson, Wired, 16 Nov. 2021 What was really at issue were European America’s procrustean racial ideas and policies. Damion Searls, Harper's magazine, 10 May 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'procrustean.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1647, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of procrustean was in 1647


Dictionary Entries Near procrustean

Cite this Entry

“Procrustean.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jul. 2024.

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