what i learned today: wordpandit's vocabulary learningWhy this section?

It all started with a simple newsletter I received from Sesquiotica (a blog on words that does some up with some crazy words). The post in question, on the innocuous little usage of the phrase per se, used one phrase that got my curiosity going: Parthian Shot?

Do you know what a ‘Parthian Shot’ means? Well, I had the same reaction as you do: nopes, no idea! Well, those parched for information have it easy now in life: Wikipedia is there for the rescue of the knowledge hungry.

Wikipedia has this to say about it:
The Parthian shot was a military tactic made famous by the Parthians, an Iranian people. The Parthian archers mounted on light horse, while retreating at a full gallop, would turn their bodies back to shoot at the pursuing enemy. The maneuver required superb equestrian skills, since the rider’s hands were occupied by his bow. As the stirrup had not been invented at the time of the Parthians, the rider relied solely on pressure from his legs to guide his horse. The tactic could also be used during feigned retreat, with devastating effect.- Wikipedia

A usage of the word by Samuel Bulter ( in ‘An Heroical Epistle of Hudibras to His Lady’)
You wound, like Parthians, while you fly,
And kill with a retreating eye.

It is from this context that ‘Parthian Shot’ has come into common usage for us. The phrase, when used in the figurative sense, means ‘A final remark, usually cutting or derogatory, made just before departing’.

In common usage, the phrase used for the above meaning is ‘parting shot’. Now next time when you plan to use ‘parting shot’, you can replace it with ‘parthian shot’, that would make you sound a lot more educated, wouldn’t it? Well, we are just kidding.

The next obvious benefit of Wikipedia is the ‘See Also’ section on the same page. You can discover some wonderful literary delights on the same page through this wonderful little section on the page. The link we discovered on this page was that of ‘Pyrrhic Victory’. This phrase means:

‘A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with such a devastating cost that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately lead to defeat. Someone who wins a “Pyrrhic victory” has been victorious in some way; however, the heavy toll or the detrimental consequences negates any sense of achievement or profit.’  – Wikipedia

Origin of Pyrrhic Victory:
This word is coined after of the name of King Pyrrhus of Epirus. He gained a victory over in the Romains in 279 BC at the battle of Asculum in Apulia. The battle, though won by King Pyrrhus, came at immense cost and caused severe losses to his army. This was followed by another battle in 280 BC, which lead to King Pyrrhus saying “Another such victory and I come back to Epirus alone”.

So whenever you find yourself in a situation where you won but at a great cost, you can safely say that you earned a pyrrhic victory.

Another phrase we found from the related phrase scheme is ‘Sacrificial Lamb’. Wikipedia has this to say about these lambs:

A sacrificial lamb is a metaphorical reference to a person or animal sacrificed (killed or discounted in some way) for the common good. The term is derived from the traditions of Abrahamic religion where a lamb is a highly valued possession, but is offered to God as a sacrifice for the forgiveness of Sin.

This phrase has different applications in different scenarios. In politics, a sacrificial lamb is a candidate chosen to contest an election despite the fact he has little chance of winning. This candidate is chosen more for political reasons than anything else, and he is sacrificed at the altar of his stronger opponent. In cinema and art, sacrificial lamb is a character whose purpose is to die, so that the hero can galvanize his forces and act against the villain. What a tough job to be this character!

In life, a sacrificial lamb is a person who is not regarded too highly and is treated as an expendable. We often find such people, don’t we?

This brings us to end to today’s learning about phrases that are not only interesting but offer immense practical value when used. Hope you had a pleasant learning experience with Wordpandit.

P.s: Wikipedia links for these phrases
1. Parthian Shot
2. Pyrrhic Victory
3. Sacrificial Lamb

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