Definition of sorcerer's apprentice in English:

sorcerer's apprentice


  • A person who instigates a process or project which they are then unable to control.

    • ‘Now they found themselves in the position of the sorcerer's apprentice, unable to control the forces they had unleashed to make their lives easier.’
    • ‘Karl Marx once compared capitalism to the sorcerer's apprentice, who unleashed amazing powers outside his control.’
    • ‘He then directed his squad of sorcerer's apprentices in Santa Monica to build scores of models that interpreted and expanded on his sketches.’
    • ‘We feel like the sorcerer's apprentice, admitted into the laboratory where miracles are made.’
    • ‘You set it into motion, it's like a sorcerer's apprentice, it does whatever it wants to do.’


Translating French l'apprenti sorcier, the title of a tone poem (1897) by the French composer and scholar Paul Dukas (1865–1935), suggested by German der Zauberlehrling (1797), a poem by Goethe.