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Borrowing from Hebrew דְּלִילָה (d'līla, [she who] weakened).


Proper nounEdit


  1. The mistress of Samson who betrayed him to the Philistines.
    •  : Judges 16:6:
      And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray thee, wherein thy great strength lieth, and wherewith thou mightest be bound to afflict thee.
  2. A female given name of Biblical origin.
    • 1919, John Galsworthy, Saint's Progress (Echo Library 2006, ISBN 1847020704, page 104:
      "Leila!" she said enigmatically. "Have you seen her?" "I went to her flat last week with Dad - he likes her." "Delilah is her real name, you know. All men like her. And Captain Fort is her lover."



Delilah (plural Delilahs)

  1. A beautiful, cunning and treacherous woman; a femme fatale.
    Though she is something of a Delilah, she is still considered the heroine of the novel.
    • 1820, Scott, Sir Walter, Ivanhoe:
      He shall burst the bands of this Delilah, as Sampson burst the two new cords with which the Philistines had bound him, and shall slaughter the infidels, even heaps upon heaps. But concerning this foul witch, who hath flung her enchantments over a brother of the Holy Temple, assuredly she shall die the death.
    • 1840, Thackeray, William Makepeace, “The Fashionable Authoress”, in The Works of William Makepeace Thackeray[1], volume 9, Boston: James R. Osgood & Company, published 1872, pages 341–342:
      Down with this Delilah! Avaunt, O Circe, giver of poisonous feeds. To your natural haunts, ye gentlemen of the press! if bachelors, frequent your taverns, and be content.
  2. A libertine; a harlot; a woman of loose morals.
    • 1908 March 11, “Notes from Paris”, in Truth, page 168:
      About twenty-three years ago the town talked about Richepin having deserted hearth and home, wife and child, to devote himself to a Delilah in the person of a famous actress.