The United Nations Refugee Agency has marked what it calls the "devastating milestone" of registering the one millionth Syrian refugee in Lebanon.


My perception is that it is " Very Shocking Event" as oppossed to "Significant event" milestone?? Sad milestone?


2 Answers 2


It's just terribly sad. The 1,000,000th person isn't any more significant than any of the 999,999 people who came before, it's just a big round number. It makes you realize just how big, like a 50th birthday. Milestone is an old term that refers to markers on a highway showing how many miles since the last marker.

The number of 1,000,000 is neither significant nor shocking in and of itself. It's just sad because it causes people to say, "Whoa, how did this happen?"

  • Mant thanks. I edited my question to be more clarified. When you say "milestone number" you make "milestone" an adjective, don't you? Do you mean it is a sad important event during this war ? Does it literally mean that?
    – user5036
    Apr 4, 2014 at 12:50
  • 1
    That's the thing, it isn't really important. In this context, milestone just emphasizes the big round number, but there isn't really anything significant about the number, except that it is big and round. Apr 4, 2014 at 12:57
  • So the literal meaning of "milestone" stems from it's archaic use as a highway marker. Yes, it can be used as an adjective, in the OP you use it as a noun. In both cases its use is metaphorical. Apr 4, 2014 at 13:01

Long ago, ancient Romans placed stone pillars called "obelisks" along the sides of roadways. Typically, the stones were placed a mile apart. Each “mile stone" was given a unique number, serving as a mile marker.

Today instead of marking the journey on an actual road, milestones mark significant events.

"Devastating milestone" therefore stands for significant shocking event.

  • This doesn't answer the question. It is clear the OP knows what a milestone is and asks about the use of the word devastating.
    – Chenmunka
    Dec 6, 2022 at 13:17

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