- A small bell-shaped bomb used to breach a gate or wall.
- A loud firecracker.
Origin of petard
French pétard from
Old French from peter to break wind from pet a breaking of wind from
Latin pēditum from neuter past participle of pēdere to break wind
; see pezd-
in Indo-European roots.Word History:
The idiom to be hoist by one's own petard
originates in Shakespeare's Hamlet
(written around 1600). In the play, Claudius, the Danish king and Hamlet's stepfather, entreats two of Hamlet's schoolfellows, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, to betray Hamlet—the pair are to escort Hamlet to England, carrying a letter instructing the English king to put Hamlet to death. Learning of the plot to kill him, Hamlet contemplates how to turn the tables against them: “For 'tis the sport to have the enginer / Hoist with his own petar; and't shall go hard / But I will delve one yard below their mines / And blow them at the moon.” Hoist
is the past participle of hoise,
an earlier form of the verb hoist,
“to be lifted up,” while a petar
is a small bomb used in early modern warfare. The phrase “hoist with his own petard” therefore means “to be blown up with his own bomb.” Contemporary audiences must have been struck by Shakespeare's turn of phrase, because it soon became a commonplace expression in 17th-century English.
- (historical) A small, hat-shaped explosive device, used to blow a hole in a door or wall.
- Anything potentially explosive, in a non-literal sense.
- (now rare) A loud firecracker.
(third-person singular simple present petards, present participle petarding, simple past and past participle petarded)
- (now rare, archaic) To attack or blow a hole in (something) with a petard.
From Middle French petarder, see pÃ©tard.