Pyrrhic victory

A Pyrrhic victory is a victory in which the winner sustains such heavy losses the result is the same as if the winner had lost. A Pyrrhic victory is a hollow victory, it is a victory that does not gain an advantage. The idiom is derived from an actual battle in 279 BC, when King Pyrrhus of Epirus was victorious over the Romans at Asculum in Apulia. Both sides suffered enormous losses, but the Romans had many more troops left at their disposal. In the long run, the Romans were victorious. Note that Pyrrhic is properly capitalized, though one frequently finds the term rendered in lowercase.


“I’m hopeful that [the law mandating sentencing reviews] isn’t just a Pyrrhic victory and that there will be some substantive, real change, that people will be released and transitioned into the community and be productive members of the community,” said Ullmann. (The Connecticut Law Tribune)

In fact, it was a Pyrrhic victory because it deluded its masterminds into thinking they could buy whatever they want for as long as they wish, without making their society do what others do to prosper: work. (The Jerusalem Post)

As ministers from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meet in Vienna, some may wonder if the strategy of maintaining output to defend market share risks securing a Pyrrhic victory. (Japan Today)

If he is seen as having lost because of rigged rules, anti-Trump Republicans will win a Pyrrhic victory, as many of his backers will walk away in the general election. (Business Insider)

Ryan appears to understand, far better than those who have been urging him to run, that to succeed in wresting away the nomination from Donald Trump or Ted Cruz at the convention in Cleveland (a far-fetched scenario to be sure) would be a Pyrrhic victory. (The Boston Globe)


Leave a Comment