Frailty, thy name is woman


What's the meaning of the phrase 'Frailty, thy name is woman'?

Alluding to the alleged inherent weakness of character of women.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Frailty, thy name is woman'?

From Shakespeare’s From Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1602:

Must I remember? why, she would hang on him,
As if increase of appetite had grown
By what it fed on: and yet, within a month –
Let me not think on’t – Frailty, thy name is woman! –
A little month, or ere those shoes were old
With which she follow’d my poor father’s body…

Hamlet is angry that his mother, Gertrude, has married his uncle Claudius within a month of his father’s death. The speech generalizes the attribution of weakness of character from one particular woman to womankind.

Trend of frailty in printed material over time

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Gary Martin

Writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.