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Win the battle only to lose the war

Posted by Smokey Stover on August 09, 2005

In Reply to: Win the battle only to lose the war posted by Brian from Shawnee on August 08, 2005

: : : : : Someone said this to me the other day,what's the meaning of it? "(You will) Win the battle to lose the war" can't exactly remember if he said "you will" so have put it in brackets. Thankyou

: : : : He may have been referring to a pyrrhic victory, neatly defined at as

: : : : Pyrrhic victory

: : : : A victory that is offset by staggering losses, as in The campaign was so divisive that even though he won the election it was a Pyrrhic victory. This expression alludes to Kind Pyrrhus of Epirus, who defeated the Romans at Asculum in a.d. 279, but lost his best officers and many of his troops. Pyrrhus then said: "Another such victory and we are lost." In English the term was first recorded (used figuratively) in 1879.

: : : This figure has often been used by environmentalists, who have often won when a case was brought to court (the battle), but have too little money and too few legal tools to stem the overall downward spiral caused by loss of habitat, overfishing (and sometimes overhunting), pollution, and other threats to the ability of our environment to support trees and wild animals as well as people (the war). SS

: : I think the original poster got one small but critical word wrong. The phrase is "Win the battle *but* lose the war", not *to* lose the war.

: On second thought, a small but critical word could have been omitted. You can just as easily say "Win the battle *only* to lose the war".

Absolutely right, Brian. I overlooked the small detail and just assumed the presence of only or but, as in "typos are too common to count." Plainly there is a meaning to the phrase as it appears in the original post, and it's quite different from the meaning with "only" or "but." SS

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