One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small bomb made of a metal or wooden box filled with powder, used to blast down a door or to make a hole in a wall.
- ‘The various applications are discussed briefly, from guns and artillery to petards (bombs for blowing down castle doors), rockets, and military mines.’
- ‘Machine guns in front and on the flank opened fire, while petards, bombs, and artillery fire covered the entire area of the trenches with projectiles.’
- 1.1 A kind of firework that explodes with a sharp report.
- ‘The next negative aspect is the noise and other pollution caused by fireworks, especially the petards that get more powerful year by year.’
- ‘After lots of petards, fireworks, pyrotechnics, the best policy for spending New Years Eve is to be surrounded by great company, friends, good music, food and drink, and following with joyful waking up and sunshine!’
be hoist with (or by) one's own petard
historical Have one's plans to cause trouble for others backfire on one.
try to do too much, overestimate one's ability, overdo it, overstretch oneself, strain oneself, burn oneself out, wear oneself out, go too far, try to be too clever, try to be too smart, bite off more than one can chew, be too clever by half, have too many irons in the fire, have too many balls in the air, defeat one's own ends, have one's scheme backfire on one, have one's scheme boomerang on one, be hoist with one's own petardView synonyms
- ‘‘‘I've been hoist by my own petard many times,’ McCain said, musing, ‘but if I think a thing is not right, I have my say.’’
- ‘Charges of working against the interests of your own country are very slippery things, and may get the one making the charges hoisted by his own petard someday.’
- ‘He's been at if for years and he finally got hoisted by his own petard.’
- ‘Of course, I may be hoist with my own petard, but I'm prepared to take my chances.’
- ‘But it is hard not to enjoy the fact that liberals now find themselves hoist by their own petard.’
- ‘But, with any luck, he may soon be hoisted by his own petard.’
Mid 16th century: from French pétard, from péter ‘break wind’.
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