What are the origins of the expression ‘to be hoist with your own petard’?

If a plan you make backfires and you end up as the person suffering from it rather than the intended victim you are said to be hoist with your own petard


A petard was a small bomb, a metal container filled with gunpowder, which in 16th and 17th century warfare was attached to doors and gates in order to blow them open.


It took its name from ‘peter’ – the French word for breaking wind!


Needless to say, planting a petard could be a tricky business, as the man who did it had to light the fuse and get away before the petard exploded. If he failed to do this, he ran the risk of being blown up by his own bomb – or, as Shakespeare put it in Act Three of Hamlet, hoist with his own petard.