Definition of Achilles heel in English:

Achilles heel


  • A weakness or vulnerable point:

    ‘the Achilles' heel of the case for nuclear power remains the issue of the disposal of waste’
    • ‘However, the proliferation of blogs and bloggers could represent the Achilles' heel in this approach.’
    • ‘The fiscal service has long been regarded as the Achilles' heel of the whole criminal justice system.’
    • ‘They hope the DNA sequence will identify weaknesses in the bacterium's genetic armour and possibly its Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘But there's an Achilles' heel: the driver's seat tilts but doesn't fold, and so restricts access into the back.’
    • ‘This is my one weakness, my Achilles' heel, if you will.’
    • ‘It seems to me that we have come to accept death on Earth as part of our human flaw, as our Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘You can either deal with the weakness and make it stronger, or deny the weakness exists, and let it be your Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘Despite being experienced enough to know not to underestimate his opponents, his overbearing confidence may prove his Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘Her movement, so much improved over the last two years, has now become an Achilles' heel once more and that may be the telling factor.’
    • ‘Henry's mistrust of imagination is his Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘So the narcissist does, after all, have an Achilles' heel - being blind to her own faults.’
    • ‘I wondered at first how they always managed to catch us, and soon realized the balcony was our Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘Sewers will remain the Achilles' heel of York's flood defences if environment chiefs fail to invest in the city's drainage system, according to a city leader.’
    • ‘That failure could be his Achilles' heel, for whenever he addresses environmental activist groups he offers platitudes, but little promise of action.’
    • ‘Personally, I would say that the lack of an integrated keypad will be this computer's Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘However, the narrowness of the debate has successfully kept attention away from their real Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘The concession of late goals has been their Achilles' heel over the last year or so.’
    • ‘Our greatest strength, our freedoms and rights, is also our Achilles' heel when we are confronted by an enemy that refuses to abide by the same rules.’
    • ‘That Ireland didn't suffer on the scoreboard was down to a lack of a killer instinct, which the visitors have previously shown to be something of an Achilles' heel.’
    • ‘In the circumstances, worrying about being thought mad or humourless seems a peculiar Achilles' heel.’
    weak spot, weak point, weakness, vulnerable spot, soft underbelly, shortcoming, failing, imperfection, flaw, defect, deficiency, fault, foible, chink in one's armour
    downfall, undoing, nemesis, waterloo
    View synonyms


Early 19th century: alluding to the vulnerability of Achilles.


Achilles heel

/əkɪliːz ˈhiːl/