the lady doth protest too much

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An allusion to Shakespeare's Hamlet,[1] where the line is spoken by Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. In the play, "protest" is used to mean "insist that what one is saying is true" (in this case, the Player Queen's protestations of love), not "insist that what another is saying is false."


the lady doth protest too much

  1. It is suspected that, because someone is insisting too much about something, the opposite of what he or she is saying must be true; a hit dog will holler.

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  1. ^
    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 ii]:
    The Lady doth proteſt too much methinks.

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