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

Did you know?

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Aside from historical references to siege warfare, and occasional contemporary references to fireworks, petard is almost always encountered in variations of the phrase "hoist with one's own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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web 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 Skipping the innumerable tabloid revelations and McGraw’s own petard-hoisting claims while appearing on Fox News, there were headline-making charges of exploitation over interviews with Britney Spears in 2008 and Shelley Duvall in 2016. Gary Baum, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Feb. 2022 Despite that controversy, the FTC’s choice to hoist Facebook by its own petard makes sense. Rebecca Haw Allensworth, Quartz, 23 Dec. 2020 After five years of continuous resident complaints, some AEC members enjoyed the opportunity to hoist locals by their own petard. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Nov. 2020 One acts as a petard, blasting through a wall to grant access to the others. The Economist, 14 Dec. 2017 See More

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.

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 1 Dec. 2022.

More from Merriam-Webster on petard

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.