pe·tard (pĭ-tärd’)
n. 1) A small bell-shaped bomb used to breach a gate or wall. 2) A loud firecracker.
be hoist with one's own petard To be undone by one's own schemes.
[French pétard, from Old French, from peter, to break wind, from pet, a breaking of wind, from Latin pēditum, from neuter past participle of pēdere, to break wind; see pezd-.]
Word History: The idiom to be hoist by one's own petard originates in Shakespeare's Hamlet (written around 1600). In the play, Claudius, the Danish king and Hamlet's stepfather, entreats two of Hamlet's schoolfellows, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to betray Hamlet—the pair are to escort Hamlet to England, carrying a letter instructing the English king to put Hamlet to death. Learning of the plot to kill him, Hamlet contemplates how to turn the tables against them: "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer / Hoist with his own petar; and't shall go hard / But I will delve one yard below their mines / And blow them at the moon." Hoist is the past participle of hoise, an earlier form of the verb hoist, "to be lifted up," while a petar or petard is a small bomb used in early modern warfare. The phrase "hoist with his own petard" therefore means "to be blown up with his own bomb." Contemporary audiences must have been struck by Shakespeare's turn of phrase, because it soon became a commonplace expression in 17th-century English.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • pétard — [ petar ] n. m. • 1584; petart 1495; de pet 1 ♦ Charge d explosif placée dans une enveloppe, qu on utilise pour détruire des obstacles, comme dispositif de signalisation acoustique ou en pyrotechnie. Les pétards du 14 Juillet. Allumer un pétard.… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Petard — Pétard Pour les articles homonymes, voir Pétard (homonymie). Une chaîne de pétards pour le nouvel an chinois Un pétard est un dispositif exp …   Wikipédia en Français

  • petard — Petard. s. m. Sorte de machine de fer ou de fonte, qui estant chargée de poudre à canon, & couverte avec un madrier, sert à enfoncer les portes d une ville qu on veut surprendre. Charger un petard. appliquer le petard à une porte. le petard ne… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • petard — [pi tärd′] n. [Fr pétard < péter, to break wind < pet, fart < L peditum < peditus, pp. of pedere, to break wind < IE base * pezd , of echoic orig.] 1. a metal cone filled with explosives, fastened in ancient warfare to walls and… …   English World dictionary

  • petard — 1590s, small bomb used to blow in doors and breach walls, from Fr. pétard (late 16c.), from M.Fr. péter break wind, from O.Fr. pet a fart, from L. peditum, properly neut. pp. of pedere to break wind (in M.L. pettus). Surviving in phrase hoist… …   Etymology dictionary

  • petard — ► NOUN historical ▪ a small bomb made of a metal or wooden box filled with powder. ● be hoist with (or by) one s own petard Cf. ↑be hoist with one s own petard ORIGIN French, from péter break wind …   English terms dictionary

  • petard — m. pétard; mèche d un fouet; ornith. motteux; détonation; explosion …   Diccionari Personau e Evolutiu

  • Petard — Pe*tard , n. [F. p[ e]tard, fr. p[ e]ter to break wind, to crack, to explode, L. pedere, peditum.] (Mil.) A case containing powder to be exploded, esp. a conical or cylindrical case of metal filled with powder and attached to a plank, to be… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • petard — index bomb Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Pétard — Nom porté dans l Ouest (44) et en Bourgogne (71). On le considère généralement comme un sobriquet appliqué à celui qui pète bruyamment …   Noms de famille

  • Petard — A petard was a small bomb used to blow up gates and walls when breaching fortifications. The term has a French origin and dates back to the XVI century. [ [] ] In a… …   Wikipedia

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