phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

The Phrase Finder

Home | Search the phrases.org.uk website | Phrase Dictionary | More honoured in the breach than in the observance

The meaning and origin of the expression: More honoured in the breach than in the observance

Browse phrases beginning with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ - Full List


More honoured in the breach than in the observance

Meaning

Cobbe family portrait of William ShakespeareThis is usually thought to mean a rule which is more often broken than observed. The context of the play shows the real meaning as 'it is more honourable to breach than to observe'.

Origin

From Shakespeare's Hamlet, 1602:

HAMLET Ay, marry, is't:
But to my mind, though I am native here
And to the manner born, it is a custom
More honour'd in the breach than the observance.

See other phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.