petard

noun
pe·tard | \pə-ˈtär(d) \

Definition of petard 

1 : a case containing an explosive to break down a door or gate or breach a wall

2 : a firework that explodes with a loud report

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Did You Know?

Aside from historical references to siege warfare, and occasional contemporary references to fireworks, "petard" is almost always encountered in variations of the phrase hoist with one's own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 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 Hamlet 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

One acts as a petard, blasting through a wall to grant access to the others. The Economist, "Miniature roboticsMilitary robots are getting smaller and more capable," 14 Dec. 2017 My biggest worry is that I will be hoisted on my own self-righteous petard. Lisa Miller, Daily Intelligencer, "John Kasich Is Already Running," 29 Oct. 2017 Meanwhile, his mysterious lover, Song Liling, homes in on that Western weakness, that crack in the armor of the capitalist patriarchy, to hang Gallimard and his followers by their own petards and cannily serve the People's Republic. Chris Jones, chicagotribune.com, "In revised 'M. Butterfly' on Broadway, Clive Owen is no French bureaucrat," 26 Oct. 2017 With award-winning films about Eliot Spitzer, Lance Armstrong, and Julian Assange, Alex Gibney is the official documentarian of men hoisted on their own petards. Rebecca Keegan, HWD, "What Trump Means for Hollywood’s Most Special Relationship," 26 Jan. 2017 ALL THE ROGER AILES CONTENT YOU CAN EAT With award-winning films about Eliot Spitzer, Lance Armstrong, and Julian Assange, Alex Gibney is the official documentarian of men hoisted on their own petards. Rebecca Keegan, HWD, "What Trump Means for Hollywood’s Most Special Relationship," 26 Jan. 2017 Now Durant is hoisting LeBron on his own free-agent petard. David Whitley, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Kevin Durant's ring won't have old-fashioned shine," 6 June 2017 ALL THE ROGER AILES CONTENT YOU CAN EAT With award-winning films about Eliot Spitzer, Lance Armstrong, and Julian Assange, Alex Gibney is the official documentarian of men hoisted on their own petards. Rebecca Keegan, VanityFair.com, "What Trump Means for Hollywood’s Most Special Relationship," 26 Jan. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'petard.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of petard

1566, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for petard

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

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Petaluma

petar

petard

petardier

Petare

petary

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The first known use of petard was in 1566

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