Origins of Sayings - Steal My Thunder

About the history and origins behind the famous saying steal my thunder.

Stories behind Famous Sayings


Who Said It: John Dennis

When: 1709

The Story behind It: John Dennis, English critic and playwright, invented a new way of simulating the sound of thunder on stage and used the method in one of his plays, Appius and Virginia. Dennis "made" thunder by using "troughs of wood with stops in them" instead of the large mustard bowls usually employed. The thunder was a great success, but Dennis's play was a dismal failure. The manager at Drury Lane, where the play was performed, canceled its run after only a few performances. A short time later, Dennis returned to Drury Lane to see Shakespeare's Macbeth. As he sat in the pit, he was horrified to discover that his method of making thunder was being used. Jumping to his feet, Dennis screamed at the audience, "That's my thunder, by God! The villians will not play my play but they steal my thunder."

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