Waterloo or meet one’s waterloo

Waterloo is a noun that describes a place or event of resounding defeat. A famous battle took place in Waterloo, Belgium between France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, and England, in 1815. Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, near Brussels, ending his reign over much of continental Europe.

Waterloo is considered the culmination of Napoleon’s overreaching hubris. When a person meets his Waterloo, he has met an insurmountable problem and suffered irreversible defeat. It may be confusing that the victor at the Battle of Waterloo, England, has adopted this phrase to mean defeat. However, met his Waterloo refers to Emperor Napoleon and his loss.



Two members of a kidnapping and armed robbery gang have met their waterloo in an encounter with the police in Enugu. (Punch)

But today’s decision has seen the councillors rejecting the advice of their own planning officials, who had recommended the scheme at Preston New Road go ahead, prompting one green group to call it a “Waterloo” defeat for the shale industry. (ITV)

FSU actually tied the Gators 3-3, but it felt worse than a loss. It felt like a Waterloo. (Orlando Sentinel)

By his stridency, Justice Scalia has lost influence over the years, Prof. Neuborne said, and “met his Waterloo” this week: “Today’s opinion is the greatest ‘living constitution’ opinion in the court’s history.” (The Globe and Mail)

Has 200-year-old tax loophole met its Waterloo? (Financial Times)

To “meet your Waterloo” is not a phrase that recalls a great triumph, but rather a complete and humiliating defeat. (The Record)

After all, in another time, on another continent, that was the locale of Napoleon’s final defeat, from which sprang the term “met his Waterloo.” (Reuters)


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