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Something rotten in Denmark

Posted by Masakim on January 28, 2002

In Reply to: Something rotten in Denmark posted by R. Berg on January 28, 2002

: : I've heard this expression all my life and never until recently wondered where it came from. What's the story behind this one?

: The story is "Hamlet." Act I, Scene 4: Marcellus (an officer) says "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark," having just seen the ghost of Hamlet's father, the late king of Denmark.

The phrase means "things are unsatisfactory; there is something wrong."
It is often (mis)quoted "There is something rotten in (the state of) Denmark."

"The good Dr. Gerard did not explain?" Sarah said, frowning:
"I don't understand Dr. Gerard. He seems to think --"
"That there is something rotten in the state of Denmark," quoted Poirot. (Agatha Christie, _Appointment with Death_, 1938)

"Even the Republicans are embarassed and feel endangered by this deal and they want to save themselves," she said. "There's something rotten in Denmark, and they want to make sure the smell doesn't attach to them." (_Newsday_, August 30, 1994)

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