One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
with object Originally (in "to out-Herod Herod"): to outdo (Herod) in cruelty, evil, extravagance, etc. Later (in weakened use): to be more extreme or outrageous than (sometimes without the implication of viciousness). Chiefly with allusion to Shakespeare's use.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in William Shakespeare (1564–1616), playwright and poet. From out- + the name of Herod the Great (d. 4 b.c.), King of Palestine, represented in the Mystery Plays as a blustering tyrant.
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