A benefit that is also a liability, or that carries some significant but non-obvious cost or risk.

Etymology:

  • From the notion that if two sides of the same blade are sharp, it cuts both ways. The metaphor may have originated from the Arabic expression سَيْف ذُو حَدَيْن. In the Bible, the word of God is described as being sharper than a double-edged sword.
  • The metaphor is first attested to in English in the 15th century. It is not to be confused with a double-ended sword.
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Submitted on September 01, 2009

Additional definitions for 'double-edged sword':

double-edged swordUsed other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see double-edged,‎ sword.
double-edged swordA benefit that is also a liability, or that carries some significant but not-so-obvious cost or risk.
See them all »

Translation

Find a translation for the double-edged sword phrase in other languages:

BIPENNIS gladio

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Nearby phrases

Some more phrases from our dictionary similar to double-edged sword

How to pronounce this phrase?

  1. Alex
    US English
    Daniel
    British
    Karen
    Australian
    Veena
    Indian

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    "double-edged sword." Phrases.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 22 Jun 2021. <https://www.phrases.com/phrase/double-edged-sword_3330>.

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