hoist by one's own petard

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Alternative forms[edit]


From the play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, see quotations.


  • (US) IPA(key): /hˈɔ͡ɪst bˈa͡ɪ wˈʌnz ˈo͡ʊn pˈɛɾɑː͡ɹd/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /hˈɔ͡ɪst bˈa͡ɪ wˈɒnz ˈə͡ʊn pˈɛtɑːd/
  • (file)


hoist by one's own petard

  1. (idiomatic) Hurt or destroyed by one's own plot or device intended for another; "blown up by one's own bomb".
    He has no one to blame but himself; he was hoisted by his own petard.
    • c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke: [] (Second Quarto), London: [] I[ames] R[oberts] for N[icholas] L[ing] [], published 1604, →OCLC, [Act III, scene iv], line 208:
      For tis the ſport to haue the enginer / Hoiſt with his owne petar, an't ſhall goe hard
    • 1963 June, “Second thoughts on Beeching”, in Modern Railways, page 362:
      Unhappily, the country as well as Mr. Marples has been hoist by the Minister's petard. (Mr. Marples was the Minister concerned)
    • 2015 August 27, Michael Signer, “What Happens When Donald Trump Stirs Up 'Passionate' Supporters”, in The Atlantic[1]:
      The danger with Trump would seem to be that, like Berlusconi, he would be hoist by his own petard, self-destructing precisely through the agent of his rise, and dragging the rest of us with him.
    • 2019 September 4, Jon Henley, “'Fighting for survival': European papers maul Johnson after defeat”, in The Guardian[2], →ISSN:
      At last, the opposition spoke with one voice, and Boris Johnson was hoist by his own petard. It’s hard to see how he gets out of it.

Usage notes[edit]

  • In the US, the forms in "hoisted" are about as common as the forms in "hoist", in contrast to other usage of the past and past participle, in which "hoisted" is fifteen times more common. Similarly in the UK, "hoisted" is far more common than "hoist" for general use of the verb, but, in this specific idiom, both forms are seen; a writer might be more likely to use "hoisted" when thinking of the hoisting as an event that occurred to the victim, and "hoist" when thinking of it as a state in which the victim finds themselves ("She's been hoisted by..." / "Now she's hoist by...").


See also[edit]