something is rotten in the state of Denmark

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

A line spoken by Marcellus in Shakespeare's Hamlet, Act I.

Phrase[edit]

something is rotten in the state of Denmark

  1. (idiomatic) Something is not right, seriously amiss, especially when leading to suspicion of motive.
    If the authorities knew about the problems and chose not to prevent them, then clearly something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Translations[edit]