The meaning of idiom feet of clay is used to describe a weakness or flaw in individuals of influence and authority. It can also apply to larger entities like societies, businesses, or empires. Despite their outward appearance of strength and dominance, those with feet of clay lack the foundation to sustain their grandeur and are easily toppled.
The origin of this phrase can be traced back to the Book of Daniel in the Bible. In this biblical account, Daniel interprets a dream of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, where a magnificent statue is depicted with a head of gold but progressively weaker and less valuable metals below, culminating in feet made of clay mixed with iron.
Daniel prophesies that this resplendent statue will be shattered by a stone, scattered like chaff in the wind. This imagery of a costly statue brought down has since become a metaphor for influential figures displaying notable weaknesses.
Usage With Examples
Now that we have understood the feet of clay meaning, let’s look at some examples of the use of this idiom:
- Despite succeeding in business, it was later found out that the CEO had feet of clay when it came to personal ethics.
- The superstar athlete’s reputation was damaged when he was caught using performance-enhancing drugs, unveiling that he too had feet of clay.
- The politician initially appeared to be a promising leader, but his scandalous behaviour revealed that he had feet of clay.
- The CEO’s public image was ruined when it was discovered that he had been embezzling company funds, revealing his feet of clay.
- Some of the greatest individuals in history had feet of clay.
Synonyms and Similar Words to Feet of Clay
Synonyms of the idiom “feet of clay” include:
Feet of Clay Meaning Quiz
Fans were shocked to find out that their favourite pop star had a foot of clay as he was believed to be a very:
a) Good person
b) Evil Individual
Answer: a) Good person
Also Read: 150 Common Difficult Idioms with Examples
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