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152 "hoist with his own petard" (Phrase origins - alt.usage.english)




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This article is from the alt.usage.english FAQ, by Mark Israel misrael@scripps.edu with numerous contributions by others.

152 "hoist with his own petard" (Phrase origins - alt.usage.english)


"For 'tis the sport to have the enginer / Hoist with his owne
petar" -- Shakespeare, Hamlet III iv. "Hoist" was in Shakespeare's
time the past participles of a verb "to hoise", which meant what "to
hoist" does now: to lift. A petard (see under "peter out" for the
etymology) was an explosive charge detonated by a slowly burning
fuse. If the petard went off prematurely, then the sapper (military
engineer; Shakespeare's "enginer") who planted it would be hurled
into the air by the explosion. (Compare "up" in "to blow up".) A
modern rendition might be: "It's fun to see the engineer blown up
with his own bomb."

 

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