On a previous post I had used a phrase “hoisted by my own petard”. Not exactly a common phrase, but I think it is generally understood. At one point I had even expanded it to absurd levels. I had envisioned how difficult it would be to skewer oneself with a spear, then lifted up for all to see.
That would be a perfect visual picture of the phrase if “petard” meant spear or “halberd”. It doesn’t.
William Shakespeare had a way with words, even if we aren’t particularly certain of their true meaning, some three hundred years later.
True enough, I wasn’t aware that the phrase came from Shakespeare, I probably picked it up from some other writer that was proving his own literacy.
It’s good to check on these things periodically, you never know what false impressions you leave in the wake of your wordsmithing.
Petard is a small bomb that was hung or propped up on walls, and when exploded the wall fell down. Shakespeare was alluding to the possibility that you could blow your self up (hoisted) accidentally.
William definitely had a way with words. Digging a little deeper gave me the root of the word “petard”. It seems it comes from the Middle French word for “passing wind”.
What!!! “Hoisted by your own petard” is actually “blowing yourself up with your own fart!”. Oh, William, William.
I am officially removing this phrase from all future posts.