This past Tuesday’s Word of the Day at Merriam-Webster:
: a loyal follower; especially : a subordinate who executes orders unquestioningly or unscrupulously
The boss was more likely to offer promotions to her myrmidons than to those workers who occasionally questioned her tactics or proposed alternate solutions.
Did you know?
The Myrmidons, legendary inhabitants of Thessaly in Greece, were known for their fierce devotion to their king, Achilles, who led them in the Trojan War. “Myrmex” means “ant” in Greek, an image that evokes small and insignificant workers mindlessly fulfilling their duty. Whether the original Myrmidons were given their name for that reason is open to question. The “ant” association is strong, however. Some say the name is from a legendary ancestor who once had the form of an ant; others say the Myrmidons were actually transformed from ants. In any case, since the 1400s, we’ve employed “myrmidon” in its not-always-complimentary, ant-evoking, figurative sense.
*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.
I must admit that I didn’t know the actual meaning of the word. I always thought it meant “good warrior.” Well, specifically “sixth-level fighter,” but even before discovering AD&D I knew Achilles’s warriors were the Myrmidons and just thought they were from a town called Myrma or something and basically kicked ass.