object lesson

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object lesson (plural object lessons)

  1. A lesson taught (especially to young children) using a familiar or unusual object as a focus.
  2. An example from real life that explains a principle or teaches a lesson.
    • 2012, Caspar Henderson, The Book of Barely Imagined Beings, page 107:
      Vertebrates are limited to two eyes each, but the variations they have played on this plain vanilla starting point are an object lesson in how much can be made from a little.
  3. Anything used as an example or lesson which serves to warn others as to the outcomes that result from a particular action or behavior, as exemplified by the fates of those who followed that course.
    Let that be an object lesson to him.
    • 2021 December 1, “Network News: Integrated Rail Plan: Osborne predicts HS2 eastern leg will return”, in RAIL, number 945, page 8:
      Of the announcement, Osborne said: "They have spent a hundred billion pounds of public money and they've got a massive raspberry from everyone as far as I can see. As a PR exercise, it's been an object lesson in how not to make a government announcement."
    • 2022 March 17, Paul Krugman, “Another Dictator Is Having a Bad Year”, in The New York Times[1], ISSN 0362-4331:
      Yet China, like Russia, is now giving us an object lesson in the usefulness of having an open society, where strongmen don’t get to invent their own reality.
    • 2022 October 25, Derek Thompson, “How the U.K. Became One of the Poorest Countries in Western Europe”, in The Atlantic[2]:
      The U.K. is now an object lesson for other countries dealing with a dark triad of deindustrialization, degrowth, and denigration of foreigners.


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