Achilles' heel

Achilles' heel

Meaning

  • A weak or vulnerable spot in something or someone which is otherwise strong

Origin

According to Greek mythology, Thetis held her young son Achilles by the heel while dipping him into the River Styx to make him invulnerable. Achilles' heel, however, remained dry and was his only weakness. After years as a brave and invincible warrior, Achilles was killed during the Trojan war by an arrow that pierced his heel. His deadly enemy Paris had learned of his secret and aimed at the weak spot. The full story is told in Homer's Iliad.

Example Sentence

A social climber can ill afford an Achilles heel, and this particular weakness on Hutchins' part would probably be disastrous to him sooner or later. JOHN WAIN, Hurry On Down, 1953.

Usage

As in the quotation, there may be no apostrophe. Most people would insert one, however. Originally used for people and their character, it may now be applied to projects and plans. Literary.

See also: feet of clay

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