sword of Damocles

noun phrase

sword of Dam·​o·​cles -ˈda-mə-ˌklēz How to pronounce sword of Damocles (audio)
often capitalized S
: an impending disaster

Examples of sword of Damocles in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And above us, dangling from the ceiling like the sword of Damocles, is a plastic model of the Hindenburg. Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic, 20 July 2023 The regulators have preferred to treat WOTUS as a sword of Damocles rather than a law, instructing field agents to make case-by-case decisions pursuant to voluminous manuals, often with major regional variations. The Editors, National Review, 26 May 2023 The sword of Damocles hanging over the industry is whether the WGA stoppage will be joined from July 1, once current contracts lapse, by the Directors Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA. John Hopewell, Variety, 15 May 2023 These actions constituted yet another example of Putin’s willingness to leverage his nuclear arsenal, dangling it like the sword of Damocles over the West in order to limit NATO’s support for Ukraine. Nina Tannenwald, Foreign Affairs, 24 Feb. 2023 The days where Democrats could dangle Proposition 187’s legacy over Republicans, like the sword of Damocles, would be done. Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times, 16 Apr. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sword of Damocles.' 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

1820, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sword of Damocles was in 1820

Dictionary Entries Near sword of Damocles

Cite this Entry

“Sword of Damocles.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sword%20of%20Damocles. Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

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