The idiomatic phrase “Procrustean bed” is one you may hear occasionally in conversation or see sporadically used in writing. In this article below, the definition of this phrase and the details of its origin can be found. You will also see samples of sentences and conversations that show the proper usage of this phrase in everyday communication and you will find some different ways to this phrase that still allow you to convey the same meaning.
Procrustean Bed Definition
The phrase “Procrustean bed” means forcing someone or something to fit or conform, generally through some type of violence.
Origin of this idiom
The metaphorical phrase “Procrustean bed” is derived from the story of Procrustes. Procrustes, a thief, was a character in a story from popular Greek mythology. It is said in this story that he would cut off the legs and arms of travelers if they were too tall or stretch them if they were too short to make them fit in his iron bed. In either case, the victim would die. Procrustes was later killed by the Greek hero Theseus. Since the writing of this story, the phrase “Procrustean bed” has been used in the sense of the definition stated above.
“Procrustean Bed” Examples
- The Procrustean bed that she felt she was forced to define her life ultimately led to her decision to commit suicide at the tender young age of 22.
- The ideas that society has adopted regarding how all women should look to be attractive often becomes a Procrustean bed for teenage females.
A conversation between a father and his son.
- Son: I finally know what to compare my life to.
- Father: And that would be?
- Son: The story we read today about a Greek mythological thief Procrustes.
- Father: Oh I know that story. Its the one about the thief who chopped people up or stretched them to fit in his bed right?
- Son: Yes, that’s it.
- Father: I fail to see how that describes your life?
- Son: Because I am forced to conform to the rules at school and the rules you and mom have in this house even when I don’t want to.
A conversation between two friends who work together having coffee.
- Friend 1: I hate this job!
- Friend 2: Me too, but at least we are working.
- Friend 1: Yes, but the rules keep changing all the time and they just expect us to conform it is sort of annoying.
- Friend 2: Agreed! It’s a real Procrustean bed situation.
Alternatives to “Procrustean Bed”
Some alternatives you can use in place of “Procrustean bed” to say the same thing include:
- Ruthless tool
- Relentless issue
- Unmerciful situation
Definition of “Procrustean Bed” | Image