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pyr·​rhic ˈpir-ik How to pronounce pyrrhic (audio)
: a metrical foot consisting of two short or unaccented syllables


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Pyr·​rhic ˈpir-ik How to pronounce Pyrrhic (audio)
: achieved at excessive cost
a Pyrrhic victory
also : costly to the point of negating or outweighing expected benefits
a great but Pyrrhic act of ingenuity

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
These are principles that must apply around the world, for basic fairness and because solving the climate crisis in just the U.S. would be the most pyrrhic of victories. The New Yorker, 18 Mar. 2022

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

Word History



Latin pyrrhichius, from Greek (pous) pyrrhichios, from pyrrhichē, a kind of dance


Pyrrhus, king of Epirus who sustained heavy losses in defeating the Romans

First Known Use


1610, in the meaning defined above


1675, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of pyrrhic was in 1610

Dictionary Entries Near pyrrhic

Cite this Entry

“Pyrrhic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

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