What is the meaning of the word "Sisyphean"?
(Prabhat Kumar, Varnasi)
King Sisyphus who ruled over his kingdom in Cornith wasn't a very good king. He treated his subjects badly and as punishment, he was sent to Hades (the land of the dead) where he was condemned to push a huge rock up a steep hill. Every time poor Sisyphus managed to get it to the top, the rock rolled down and he had to repeat the task. Two positive things came out of this futile exercise: 1) The workout helped Sisyphus build some serious muscles, and 2) The rock gathered no moss! You know what they say, a rolling stone gathers no moss!
Anyway, when you refer to a task as being "Sisyphean", what you are implying is that you are involved in endless and meaningless labour. The "i" in the first syllable and the "y" in the second are pronounced like the "i" in "pit", "bit", and "sit". The "ph" sounds like the "f" in "fine", "feet", and "fair"; and the following vowel is like the "ee" in "fee", "bee", and "key". The final "a" is like the "a" in "China". The main stress is on the third syllable "phe". This is one way of pronouncing the word.
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