dragon's teeth


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dragon's teeth

pl n
1. (Fortifications) informal conical or wedge-shaped concrete antitank obstacles protruding from the ground in rows: used in World War II
2. sow dragon's teeth to take some action that is intended to prevent strife or trouble but that actually brings it about
[sense 2 from the story of Cadmus]
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References in classic literature ?
Cadmus," said a voice but whether it came from above or below him, or whether it spoke within his own breast, the young man could not tell--"Cadmus, pluck out the dragon's teeth, and plant them in the earth.
Finally, however, a sufficiently large tract oœ ground was turned up, and sown with this new kind of seed; although half of the dragon's teeth still remained to be planted some other day.
How fortunate would it be for a great conqueror, if he could get a bushel of the dragon's teeth to sow!
It was the strangest spectacle of causeless wrath, and of mischief for no good end, that had ever been witnessed; but, after all, it was neither more foolish nor more wicked than a thousand battles that have since been fought, in which men have slain their brothers with just as little reason as these children of the dragon's teeth.
And forthwith, feeling themselves bound to obey him, the five remaining sons of the dragon's teeth made him a military salute with their swords, returned them to the scabbards, and stood before Cadmus in a rank, eyeing him as soldiers eye their captain, while awaiting the word of command.
These five men had probably sprung from the biggest of the dragon's teeth, and were the boldest and strongest of the whole army.
It may not be too much to hope that the rest of mankind will by and by grow as wise and peaceable as these five earth-begrimed warriors, who sprang from the dragon's teeth.
The five old soldiers of the dragon's teeth grew very fond of these small urchins, and were never weary of showing them how to shoulder sticks, flourish wooden swords, and march in military order, blowing a penny trumpet, or beating an abominable rub-a-dub upon a little drum.
The Thebans sprung from the Dragon's teeth sown by Cadmus.
The new era began; the king was tried, doomed, and beheaded; the Republic of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, or Death, declared for victory or death against the world in arms; the black flag waved night and day from the great towers of Notre Dame; three hundred thousand men, summoned to rise against the tyrants of the earth, rose from all the varying soils of France, as if the dragon's teeth had been sown broadcast, and had yielded fruit equally on hill and plain, on rock, in gravel, and alluvial mud, under the bright sky of the South and under the clouds of the North, in fell and forest, in the vineyards and the olive-grounds and among the cropped grass and the stubble of the corn, along the fruitful banks of the broad rivers, and in the sand of the sea-shore.
She never created a friend, but seemed always to be sowing broadcast the dragon's teeth, whence sprung a harvest of armed enemies, against whom she rushed to battle.
Despicable trickery at elections; under-handed tamperings with public officers; cowardly attacks upon opponents, with scurrilous newspapers for shields, and hired pens for daggers; shameful trucklings to mercenary knaves, whose claim to be considered, is, that every day and week they sow new crops of ruin with their venal types, which are the dragon's teeth of yore, in everything but sharpness; aidings and abettings of every bad inclination in the popular mind, and artful suppressions of all its good influences: such things as these, and in a word, Dishonest Faction in its most depraved and most unblushing form, stared out from every corner of the crowded hall.