Showing posts with label Hamlet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hamlet. Show all posts

Mar 27, 2012

Hoisted by His Own Petard

Many have heard this statement. Here is the background. Shakespeare, specifically Hamlet, act III, scene 4, lines 206 and 207: "For 'tis sport to have the engineer/ Hoist with his own petar …"

The Melancholy Dane is chuckling over the fate he has in store for his childhood comrades, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are plotting to have him killed. Deferring his existential crisis for a moment, Hamlet turns the plot on the plotters, substituting their names for his in the death warrant they carry from King Claudius.

He continues: "But I will delve one yard below their mines/ And blow them at the moon." The key word is "mines," as in "land mines," for that's what a petard is (or "petar," as Shakespeare wrote. A small explosive device designed to blow open barricaded doors and gates, the petard was a favorite weapon in Elizabethan times.

Hamlet was saying, figuratively, that he would bury his bomb beneath Rosencrantz and Guildenstern's and "hoist" them, i.e., "blow them at the moon."

The word "petard," comes from the Middle French peter, which derives in turn from the Latin peditum, to break wind. So, a small explosion.

Mar 9, 2012


The only word that consists of two letters, each used three times is the word "deeded."

A hamlet is a village without a church and a town is not a city until it has a cathedral.

The 'v' in the name of a court case does not stand for 'versus', but for 'and' (in civil proceedings) or 'against' (in criminal proceedings).

The word "karate" means "empty hand."

May 19, 2011

Something is Rotten in Denmark

I heard someone say this on an English TV show recently and thought it interesting that they use the same expression we do. Looked it up and found out it is from Shakespeare's Hamlet when Marcellus sees the ghost of Hamlet's father, the king of Denmark. Literally it meant that something was wrong with the government of Denmark. Used loosely now, it means something is wrong or things are unsatisfactory.