pe·​tard pə-ˈtär(d) How to pronounce petard (audio)
: a case containing an explosive to break down a door or gate or breach a wall
: a firework that explodes with a loud report

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Where does the phrase hoist with one's own petard come from?

Aside from historical references to siege warfare, and occasional contemporary references to fireworks, petard is almost always encountered in variations of the phrase "hoist with one's own petard," meaning "victimized or hurt by one's own scheme." The phrase comes from William Shakespeare's Hamlet: "For 'tis the sport to have the enginer / Hoist with his own petar." Hoist in this case is the past participle of the verb hoise, meaning "to lift or raise," and petar(d) refers to an explosive device used in siege warfare. Hamlet uses the example of the engineer (the person who sets the explosive device) being blown into the air by his own device as a metaphor for those who schemed against him being undone by their own schemes. The phrase has endured, even if its literal meaning has largely been forgotten.

Examples of petard in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Maxine, in some ways, is hoisted on her own petard. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 8 May 2024 Still, Montoya has sometimes been hoisted with his own petard, as his club has allowed late-game goals in each of its last three games, two of them losses, largely because Bay FC doesn’t want to stop looking for goals. Jason Mastrodonato, The Mercury News, 15 Apr. 2024 Charlotte winds up hoisted by her own petard when her investigation into her former friend results in havoc rather than healing. Courtney Howard, Variety, 16 Nov. 2023 Progressives risk being hoist by their own petard. James A. Baker Iii, WSJ, 6 June 2021 Getting your petard gored on the emitting of offensive AI language is a now enduring mistake. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 5 Feb. 2023 Oops, ChatGPT has now gotten foisted on its own petard. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 24 Jan. 2023 In the real world, someone like Eileen — who’s hoisted herself on her own petard — would more likely leave her old job in a huff and start up a newsletter and write disingenuously about her nonexistent cancellation. Nina Metz, Chicago Tribune, 6 Oct. 2022 What better fate than to see the professional bloviator and conspiracy theorist have his own words used against him, hoisted on his self-incriminating petard? Wired, 5 Aug. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'petard.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle French, from peter to break wind, from pet expulsion of intestinal gas, from Latin peditum, from neuter of peditus, past participle of pedere to break wind; akin to Greek bdein to break wind

First Known Use

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of petard was in 1566


Dictionary Entries Near petard

Cite this Entry

“Petard.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

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