Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Achilles heel

Achilles heel

Meaning

  • a vulnerable spot or weakness
  • a small fault in a person or system that can result in its failure
  • a small problem or weak point in someone who is otherwise perfect
  • a small but fatal weakness

Example Sentences

  1. The corrupt minister is regarded as the government’s Achilles heel and is expected to resign.
  2. Though he was a good person, his short temper was his Achilles heel.
  3. The tennis player had a great serve, but his returns were not as good and that could prove to be his Achilles heel.
  4. The acquisition that the company made last year is turning out to be an Achilles heel, as it has not made any profits and is burning cash.
  5. Overall, they were a strong team, but there was a weak link in the defense, and that could prove to be the Achilles heel.
  6. He was a good student, but English literature had always been his Achilles heel.
  7. Fear of spiders was his Achilles heel.

Origin
The phrase has its origins in the legend of the Greek hero Achilles. According to the legend, Achilles was dipped into the river Styx by his mother Thetis to him invulnerable. The only portion of his body not immersed into the water was his heels, by which his mother held him. As a result, the heels were the only vulnerable part of his body. He was later killed by an arrow that struck his heel.

Though the legend is ancient, the phrase was not used in English until the 19th century. An early citation appears in an essay by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in “The Friend; a literary, moral and political weekly paper” in 1810.

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2 Comments

  • Expression: Sankaravelayudhan Nandakumar writes on 2 November, 2015

    An Achilles heel is a weakness in spite of overall strength, which can actually or potentially lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common.
    Meaning
    A weak or vulnerable factor.
    Origin
    The legend of Achilles has it that he was dipped into the river Styx by his mother Thetis in order to make him invulnerable. His heel wasn’t covered by the water and he was later killed by an arrow wound to his heel.
    Although the legend is ancient, the phrase wasn’t picked up in English until the 19th century. It is used as a metaphor for vulnerability, as in this early citation, an essay by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in The Friend; a literary, moral and political weekly paper, 1810:
    “Ireland, that vulnerable heel of the British Achilles!”
    1) The corrupt minister is regarded as the government’s Achilles heel and is expected to resign.
    2) Ireland is the Achilles heel of Britain

  • Expression: jelly sohi writes on 2 July, 2015

    he is almost a perfact man but love for flattery in his achilles heel

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