Friday, April 27, 2007

Winning, but at too great a cost -- a Pyrrhic victory

Grammar Tip of the Day (No. 48) (from

From today's USA Today:
"The White House knows we're going to fund the troops, and that puts us at a severe disadvantage," said Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Out-of-Iraq Caucus. "I think we're ultimately going to lose this battle, although I think it will be a Pyrrhic victory for the White House because they are going to lose the war for public opinion."

"One more such victory and we are lost," exclaimed Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, as he described his costly success against the Romans in the battle of Asculum in Apulia in 279 BC. With those words he gave us a metaphor to refer to a victory so costly that it's barely better than defeat.

Pyrrhic victory (PIR-ik) noun A victory won at too great a cost.[After Pyrrhus, king of Epirus, (318 - 272 BC) who suffered staggering losses in defeating the Romans in 280 and 279 B.C.]

"With lawsuits multiplying like crazy and mutual accusations of stealing the election spiralling out of control, almost any result now looks as if it will be a Pyrrhic victory."
United States: Whatever Will They Think of Next?; The Economist (London, UK); Nov 25, 2000.

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