slings » stings
Spotted in the wild:
- To be or not to be that is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the stings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or take up arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing them, end them. (TPCN Great Quotations)
- Sovereignties are often seen in a battle arrayed in shining armor and civilizations tend to fall between these tools and suffer the stings and arrows of misfortune. (UNESCO)
- Liberals have since the founding of this country moved it FORWARD. Unflinchingly and with tremendous courage. They have taken the stings and arrows of their fellow man and turned them into the reason for their struggle. (link)
“stings and arrows” gets 331 hits on Google
“slings and arrows”, gets 130,000 hits on Google
The original is from Hamlet’s Shakespeare, and it is a biblical reference, I believe.
On the SHAKSPER mailing list, Hardy M. Cook reports:
> But this time I got up and pulled down Harold Jenkins’s Arden edition and
checked his footnotes. Although Jenkins suspects that the line should read
“stings and arrows of outrageous fortune,” he cites no examples of the arrows
of fortune. (Neither does the Furness variorum.)
> I checked the OED1 under “slings,” and found example after example of the union
of “slingers and archers, slings and bows”–the light artillery of
pre-gunpowder warfare. Jenkins found only one example in Golding’s translation
of Caesar’s Gallic Wars. I see no need for an emendation of
“slings” to “stings.” Under “fortune,” I found no reference to “fortune’s
> Both “slings” and “arrows” had a figurative use by Shakespeare’s time (and
probably much earlier), indicating the “power” of certain abstractions. So, one
could talk about, say, the slings of conscience. Perhaps there was no
tradition in which Fortune was pictured as an archer.
See also _strings and arrows_.