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poisoned chalice

An assignment, award, or honour which is likely to prove a disadvantage or source of problems to the recipient; the phrase is found originally in Shakespeare's Macbeth (1606), in a speech ...

poisoned chalice

poisoned chalice ([Shakes.])   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Reference and Allusion (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Language reference
Length:
75 words

... chalice [Shakes.] A phrase from Macbeth ( 1606 ), used by *Macbeth in a speech in which he flinches from the prospective murder of Duncan: …this even-handed justice Commends the ingredients of our poisoned chalice To our own lips. > A role or appointment which is likely to bring problems The new IBTS chairman, Donegal county manager, Michael McLoone, said he did not regard his new post as a poisoned chalice. Irish Examiner ...

poisoned chalice

poisoned chalice   Quick reference

The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2006

... chalice an assignment, award, or honour which is likely to prove a disadvantage or source of problems to the recipient; the phrase is found originally in Shakespeare's Macbeth ( 1606 ), in a speech in which Macbeth flinches from the prospective murder of...

poisoned chalice

poisoned chalice noun   Quick reference

Oxford Dictionary of English (3 ed.)

Reference type:
English Dictionary
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
English Dictionaries and Thesauri
Length:
59 words
poisoned chalice

poisoned chalice noun   Quick reference

New Oxford American Dictionary (3 ed.)

Reference type:
English Dictionary
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
English Dictionaries and Thesauri
Length:
59 words
poisoned chalice

poisoned chalice noun   Reference library

The Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2 ed.)

Reference type:
English Dictionary
Current Version:
2005
Subject:
English Dictionaries and Thesauri
Length:
23 words
poisoned chalice

poisoned chalice  

Reference type:
Overview Page
An assignment, award, or honour which is likely to prove a disadvantage or source of problems to the recipient; the phrase is found originally in Shakespeare's Macbeth (1606), in a speech in which ...
James Callaghan

James Callaghan  

(1912–2005).Prime minister. Callaghan had the unique record of having held all the highest offices of state: chancellor of the Exchequer (1964–7), home secretary (1967–70), foreign secretary ...
Andersen, Hans Christian

Andersen, Hans Christian (1805–75)([Fairy tales])   Quick reference

A Dictionary of Reference and Allusion (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2010
Subject:
Language reference
Length:
108 words

...‘The Red Shoes’, ‘The Ugly Duckling’, and ‘The Little Mermaid’. > A great storyteller ‘He says that according to the grapevine—alias his mates at Kensington—nobody's very anxious for the job. With the last two supers dying in harness, they reckon Shepherd 's Bush is a poisoned chalice. That's why we've had the night watchman so long.’ ‘They're a right bunch of Hans Andersens down at Kensington,’ said Slider. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles Blood Lines ...

Hague, William

Hague, William (b. 1961)   Reference library

J. A. Cannon and Robert Crowcroft

The Oxford Companion to British History (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
180 words

...the polls and Hague resigned at once from the leadership, though continuing to represent Richmond. Blamed for adopting too right-wing a stance, it is far from certain that any other leader would have done better, and the succession to John Major had all the appearance of a poisoned chalice. Shadow Foreign Secretary after 2005 , since 2010 he has been Foreign Secretary. J. A. Cannon / Robert...

Brown, (James) Gordon

Brown, (James) Gordon (b. 1951)   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to British History (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
328 words

...slowed and the banking crisis of 2008 dominated Brown’s premiership. Exhausted and facing rumours about his mental health, Brown led Labour to defeat at the 2010 general election. Always considered one of the most gifted politicians of his generation, Brown inherited a poisoned chalice as prime minister, succeeding Blair at the moment that an economic crisis erupted. But assessments of Brown’s legacy are certain to be bound up with questions of the role he played as chancellor in overseeing an unbalanced economy overly reliant on the City of London and a...

lord deputy

lord deputy   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Irish History (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2007
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
372 words

...from England, which was lost by the earl of Sussex (lord deputy 1556–8 ) and Sir Henry Sidney because of opposition from the Old English , and by Perrot and Viscount Falkland (lord deputy 1622–9 ) because of infighting with their privy councils. Ireland was a poisoned chalice which destroyed the careers of Gray , St Leger , Perrot , and Wentworth . Although most early modern chief governors were lords deputy, the more prestigious title of lord lieutenant was kept alive: Sussex, having served as lord deputy 1556–8 , was promoted to lord...

Campbell‐Bannerman, Sir Henry

Campbell‐Bannerman, Sir Henry   Quick reference

A Dictionary of British History (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
358 words

...though by that time he harboured ambitions to become Speaker. Instead he was destined to fill the vacuum left by Gladstone's retirement. Rosebery quit in 1896 , and Sir William Harcourt resigned as leader in 1898 . When both John Morley and H. H. Asquith declined the poisoned chalice, C‐B became leader almost by default. He was promptly faced with the task of guiding the divided Liberal Party through a period dominated by the Boer War . The use of concentration camps by Kitchener to quell the Boers provoked C‐B's memorable words: ‘When is a war not a...

connive

connive   Reference library

Garner’s Modern English Usage (4 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2016
Subject:
Language reference, Usage and Grammar Guides
Length:
498 words

...is more common in BrE than AmE—e.g.: “Edward Heath railroaded Britain's entry into Europe through Parliament, courtesy of revolting Labour Europhile MPs who cheerfully connived at the deception Heath was perpetrating upon British voters.” Melanie Phillips , “Europe Is a Poisoned Chalice,” Observer , 2 June 1996 , at 6. In sense 2, the connotation is usually milder than conspire , more venial and less blameworthy. Because it is a slipshod extension , it can usually be improved on—e.g.: • “A shipment of Norton McNaughton shirts and jackets still bore...

Callaghan, James

Callaghan, James   Quick reference

A Dictionary of British History (3 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
462 words

...1979 the devolution referenda failed. The Labour government lost a vote of no confidence by one vote and the subsequent general election. In October 1980 Callaghan resigned as leader and in 1987 became a life peer. The succession to Wilson had proved something of a poisoned chalice...

John, Saint, Apostle and Evangelist

John, Saint, Apostle and Evangelist   Reference library

The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Art and Architecture (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2013
Subject:
Art & Architecture, Religion
Length:
624 words

...elsewhere to provide some of the commonest scenes from his legend, including the raising from the dead of Drusiana, with whom he had lodged in Ephesus, and the occasion when, challenged by the High Priest of Diana of the Ephesians, he drank from a poisoned chalice. He made the sign of the Cross over it and the poison emerged in the form of a serpent or snake. The attempt to martyr him in boiling oil is said to have taken place in Rome, near the Latin Gate, and the spot is now marked by the small church of San Giovanni in Olio. The Lateran Basilica in Rome is...

Callaghan, James

Callaghan, James (1912–2005)   Reference library

Richard A. Smith

The Oxford Companion to British History (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
631 words

...Policy, and arrangements for Commonwealth countries. But the changes were largely cosmetic. In 1976 Wilson announced his resignation and Callaghan beat Michael Foot to assume the party leadership and prime ministership. The succession to Wilson was something of a poisoned chalice. The election was won mainly by the desire of the party centre-right to stop Foot rather than on Callaghan’s own merits. The outlook for Callaghan’s term was gloomy from the outset, a fact he recognized. Inflation was rampant and he was aware that the country was not earning...

Campbell-Bannerman, Sir Henry

Campbell-Bannerman, Sir Henry (1836–1908)   Reference library

Martin Pugh

The Oxford Companion to British History (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
520 words

...though by that time he harboured ambitions to become Speaker. Instead he was destined to fill the vacuum left by Gladstone’s retirement. Rosebery quit in 1896 , and Sir William Harcourt resigned as leader in 1898 . When both John Morley and H. H. Asquith declined the poisoned chalice, C-B became leader almost by default. He was promptly faced with the task of guiding the divided Liberal Party through a period dominated by the Boer war when his leadership was challenged by Rosebery and undermined by the liberal Imperialists who supported the...

Edward I

Edward I (1239–1307)   Reference library

S. D. Lloyd

The Oxford Companion to British History (2 ed.)

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2015
Subject:
History, Regional and National History
Length:
957 words

...ever created for an English queen (or king). In his considerable achievements, especially in legislation and government, Edward was one of the most notable of English medieval kings, but those achievements have to be set against equally considerable failures, and the poisoned chalice of Anglo-Scottish relations, combined with chronic financial difficulties, which he bequeathed to his son. S. D. Lloyd Prestwich, M. C. , Edward I (1988); —— The Three Edwards (1980); Salzman, L. F. , Edward I ...

Iran–Iraq war

Iran–Iraq war   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Military History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004

...1985 . In early July Iraq drove the remaining Iranian forces out of Kurdistan and later that month gained a small strip of Iranian territory in the central front. Confronted with these setbacks, the mullahs in Tehran were desperately urging Ayatollah Khomeini to drink the ‘poisoned chalice’ and order the cessation of hostilities. After a year of evasion and hesitation, Iran accepted UN Security Council Resolution 598 for a ceasefire and a month later the guns along the common border fell silent. Efraim...

war crimes

war crimes   Reference library

The Oxford Companion to Military History

Reference type:
Subject Reference
Current Version:
2004

...anyone for genocide was particularly poignant, and US Adm Nimitz gave testimony in defence of Adm Dönitz on the subject of unrestricted submarine warfare, to no avail. But when the US representative, later Supreme Court Justice, Telford Taylor pointed out that the ‘poisoned chalice’ being fashioned for the defendants was being also held to the lips of their judges, he knew of what he spoke. The Nuremberg and Tokyo processes both invigorated the post-war development of international criminal and humanitarian law, and prompted wider efforts to bring...

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