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Hoist from his own petard

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on December 19, 2005

In Reply to: Hoist from his own petard posted by David FG on December 19, 2005

: : In the origins and definitions section of the site, it makes reference to the French word 'péter', to fart.

: : I recently saw an article that claims that it is "...a phrase that derives, entirely appropriately, from the old French for being "blown up by your own fart". " Naturally there were no references provided.

: : Any French speakers able to confirm or deny?

: : It's all rather Wile E Coyote-esque.

: : thanks,

: : Camelita

: Not exactly. A petard was a small explosive device which had to be stuck to a wall, gate or whatever. The person doing this (the petardier) was in constant danger of being killed himself if the petard exploded before he could get away. Hence, hoist by his own petard.


- It is true however that the word does derive from "peter" (i.e. a petard was "a farting thing"). The quote is from Shakespeare's Hamlet: "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer hoist with his own petard", meaning, "it's a good laugh to see a sapper blown up by his own bomb".