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A pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is almost the same as being defeated. The "pyrrhic" victor is, however, a victor in some way.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Pyrrhus of Epirus (to whom the term is named after) who defeated the Romans in 280 BC, but lost, in a sense, more men than the Romans did
- Microsoft and its 2001 antitrust case - the Appeals Court decided it was too big to be broken up, however, Microsoft still suffered and was heavily punished.
Hope this helps!
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