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I am looking for a word, phrase or idiom to describe a certain feeling of relief at losing a battle or war. I imagine it is a common feeling. Sadness at losing but relief that the fighting can stop and that the winning side will now be responsible for picking up the pieces.

This could apply to real wars and battles, but also politics, business and personal relationships. Sort of the opposite of a pyrrhic victory, but not quite.

  • Though consolation has multiple other primary meanings, it is something that can be used to talk about positive things that come from defeat. – Mike Graham Dec 14 '19 at 21:54
  • I doubt anything satisfactory will be suggested (but will be happy if wrong) as there's too many important aspects to the relief in this situation. "Relief" by itself captures it best. But it's also here coupled with a "release" of physical or emotional anxiety. And, it's of an existential sort, where the relief is life-affirming in a unique way... it's quite forward-looking (to rebuilding / moving on) rather than dwelling on the event warranting the relief. Finally there's an aspect of self-indulgent resignation to it; like, you were spent anyway, and you knew it, so why not just be honest. – MDHunter Dec 14 '19 at 23:17
  • @MDHunter You have completely grasped the feeling I was explaining, and it is indeed complex, but I think quite a distinct thing which I think is common, but perhaps not common enough to have a succinct expression in English. – David Board Dec 15 '19 at 8:01
  • related to "grace" (I think) – KannE Dec 16 '19 at 9:20
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Solace might work as a verb or noun. I think it's closer to what you're describing than consolation is.

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There is no existent word or phrase that I know of for this.

However, the literal opposite of pyrrhic victory would be consolatory defeat.

From consolation:

[Merriam-Webster]
1 : the act or an instance of consoling : the state of being consoled : COMFORT
// She found great consolation in all the cards and letters she received.

So:

"Yes, you lost the battle, but take consolation in the fact that you can now rest."


The specific context of war aside, a general expression is to lay down your burdens, which simply means to stop fighting or worrying about things and to just relax—at least for a while.

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