Part of speech:
Proper adjective. You always capitalize proper adjectives, like “Korean,” “Shakespearean,” and “Christian.”
(Adjectives are describing words, like “large” or “late.”
They can be used in two ways:
1. Right before a noun, as in “a Damoclean nightmare”
2. After a linking verb, as in “The nightmare was Damoclean.”)
Something Damoclean reminds you of Damocles, the guy from mythology who was at a banquet and had to sit under a sword hanging up by a single hair. So, a Damoclean sword, or a Damoclean anything else, is a scary situation that makes you think terrible harm or disaster is about to happen.
How to use it:
Talk about a Damoclean sword hanging over you or waiting for you or threatening you, as in "I couldn't get out from under the Damoclean sword as the executives were selecting dozens of people to fire." That Damoclean sword can drop or descend when the disaster actually hits, as in "The Damoclean sword finally dropped on him when he got his license revoked for driving without insurance." You can say that something is a Damoclean sword, and whatever that thing is can be either concrete or abstract, as in "the Damoclean sword of the engine in poor repair" and "the Damoclean sword of her over-the-top jealousy." You can use this word to be silly, sarcastic, or dramatic, as in "Yeah, this letter from the library demanding my 25 cent fine or else is a real Damoclean sword."
You can talk about a Damoclean warning shot, a Damoclean threat, a Damoclean incentive to act, a Damoclean dread or a Damoclean uncertainty, etc., but most of the time the phrase you see is "Damoclean sword" (or "sword of Damocles.")
You might think of "Damoclean" as a word too fancy for everyday conversation. I'd say, if you're comfortable talking about your Achilles' heel and your Herculean labors, then it's probably just fine to mention your sword of Damocles, too.
Even though I was very healthy in my mid-twenties, lacking health insurance was a Damoclean sword that Jay removed when he convinced me to buy it.
Although we're taking steps away from it, humanity's Damoclean sword is still our reckless treatment of the environment.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You'll know you understand what "Damoclean" means when you can explain it without saying "imminent" or "threatening."
Think of a time you or someone you know was in a threatening situation (either seriously or jokingly), and fill in the blanks: "When _____, (someone)'s Damoclean sword was _____.”
Serious example: "When I was a sophomore in college and scrambling to find a new apartment, my Damoclean sword was the naive trust I placed in the salespeople who told me what I wanted to hear about the cleanliness of the unit, the absence of roaches and rats, and the safety of the neighborhood."
Joking example: "When I was trying to diet, my Damoclean sword was Little Debbie Swiss rolls."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don't go straight to the review now; let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month's game is "Guess the real pop song title when I give you a long-winded, highfalutin version of it." All the answers this month will be titles of popular songs released no earlier than 2012. Try it out each day and see the right answer the next day. We're playing this in order to appreciate the simple, precise vocabulary of pop song titles, despite how often they are criticized for being sappy, trite, and simplistic.
Yesterday’s answer: “Depression in the Estival Period” is really “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey and Cedric Gervais.
Try this one today: “Identical Affection”
A Point Well Made:
L. M. Montgomery: “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it yet.”
1. The opposite of DAMOCLEAN is
2. The newest employees felt _____ under a Damoclean sword of _____.
A. welcomed .. power and prestige.
B. stressed out .. contradictory requirements.
C. bored .. simple and repetitive paperwork.
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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