- a weakness or hidden flaw in the character of a greatly admired or respected person: He was disillusioned to find that even Lincoln had feet of clay.
- any unexpected or critical fault.
People are said to have “feet of clay” if they are revealed to have a weakness or flaw that most people were unaware of: “When the coach was arrested for drunken driving, the students realized that their hero had feet of clay.”
A failing or weakness in a person’s character, as in The media are always looking for a popular idol’s feet of clay. This expression comes from the Bible (Daniel 2:31–33), where the prophet interprets Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a statue with a head of gold and feet of iron clay. [c. 1600]