Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A metrical foot having two short or unaccented syllables.
  • adjective Of or characterized by pyrrhics.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An ancient Grecian warlike dance, in quick and light measure, accompanied by the flute.
  • Of or pertaining to the Greek martial dance called a pyrrhic.
  • Pertaining to Pyrrhus, especially to Pyrrhus, King of Epirus (see phrase below).
  • In prosody, consisting of two short times or syllables: as, a pyrrhic foot; composed of or pertaining to feet so constituted: as, pyrrhic verse; pyrrhic rhythm.
  • noun In ancient prosody, a foot consisting of two short times or syllables. ;

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun An ancient Greek martial dance, to the accompaniment of the flute, its time being very quick.
  • noun (Pros.) A foot consisting of two short syllables.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to an ancient Greek martial dance.
  • adjective (Pros.) Of or pertaining to a pyrrhic, or to pyrrhics; containing pyrrhic.
  • adjective any act supposedly benefitting the actor, for which the costs outweight the benefits.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective prosody Of or characterized by pyrrhics.
  • adjective Relating to Pyrrhus, a Macedonian king, or some of his costly victories he had while fighting Rome.
  • noun An Ancient Greek war dance.
  • noun prosody A metric foot with two short or unaccented syllables.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective of or relating to or containing a metrical foot of two unstressed syllables
  • noun a metrical unit with unstressed-unstressed syllables
  • adjective of or relating to a war dance of ancient Greece
  • adjective of or relating to or resembling Pyrrhus or his exploits (especially his sustaining staggering losses in order to defeat the Romans)
  • noun an ancient Greek dance imitating the motions of warfare

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Latin pyrrhicius, from Greek purrikhios, from purrikhē, a war dance, perhaps from Purrikhos, supposed inventor of the dance.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin pyrrhichius, from Ancient Greek πυρρίχιος (pyrrichos), from πυρρίχη (pyrriche, "war dance")

Examples

Comments

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  • Where the 'means' defeats the 'ends' rather than the 'ends' justifying the 'means'...

    January 3, 2007

  • pyrrhic - you quote a number of examples of the use of pyrrhic in the sense most commonly seen - pyrrhic victory i.e. a victory at such cost it was probably not worth winning and yet you do not give that sense as one of the definitions of the word????

    June 5, 2012

  • The sense you mention, alasdair17, pertains to the noun phrase Pyrrhic victory, not to the word pyrrhic per se, which is why I do not give it here. I do, however, provide it under "Pyrrhic victory" (note the capital "P", which I prefer since in this sense the word derives from the proper noun Pyrrhus). By the way, there really was no need to use four question marks in a row. I hope you have calmed down a little.

    June 5, 2012

  • Thanks rolig! There's also a Wiktionary definition at Pyrrhic.

    June 6, 2012

  • An ancient Grecian warlike dance, in quick and light measure, accompanied by the flute

    flour milling

    June 8, 2012