Notes: This word has several varied definition; I only knew one of them. How many do you know?
An Augean stable is “a condition or place marked by great accumulation of filth or corruption”
It looks like this phrase came into English in the late 1500s
Background / Comments
When I was in late grade school and high school, I had an interest in Greek and Roman mythology, so I knew that one of the twelve labors of Hercules was to clean the “Augean stables”. They belonged to a king who kept 3,000 oxen, and they not been cleaned for decades (truly a Herculean task). Hercules accomplished the task by diverting a river to run through them. I wasn’t aware that the phrase had come into English with the meaning — the “corruption” part seems to be an extension to the idea of great filth. Note that the word Augean is a word in its own right, meaning “very difficult (usually distasteful)”, thus “Augean task” or “Augean assignment”.