an ancient Roman story about a slave called Androcles who escapes from his owner and meets a lion with a thorn (=a sharp pointed part of a plant) in its foot. Androcles removes the thorn. Later he is caught and is made to fight with a lion in the arena as punishment for escaping, but the lion is the same one that he helped, and instead of attacking him, it greets him as a friend.
Definition from the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
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