Achilles heel

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See also: Achilles' heel


Alternative forms[edit]


From the Greek hero Achilles, whom according to legend his mother held by the heel when she dipped him in the River Styx, making him invulnerable everywhere except on his heel. He was later killed by an arrow wound to the heel.

Although the legend is ancient, the phrase only entered English in the 19th century. It is used as a metaphor for vulnerability, as in the earliest citation, an essay by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.[1]



Achilles heel (plural Achilles heels)

  1. A vulnerability in an otherwise strong situation.
    Synonyms: soft spot, vulnerability, weakness, weak spot, kryptonite; see also Thesaurus:weak spot
  2. (anatomy) The Achilles tendon, the tendo Achillis.

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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Samuel Taylor Coleridge (March 1810) The friend; a literary, moral, and political weekly paper, issue 26, page 431: “ [] Ireland, that vulnerable heel of the British Achilles!”