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Osmin, one of the characters in this Opera said this phrase multiple times.

Gift und Dolch

For example in here

OSMIN
Gift und Dolch! was ist das? wer kann ins Haus steigen?

Another example in here:

OSMIN
Gift und Dolch über das Mädchen! - Beym Mahomet! sie macht mich rasend.

I know it literally means Poison and Dagger, but I think it must relate to something like "Damn it!""Sh*t!", but I couldn't find a clue.

It must be an archaic usage, because there seem to be no discussions about this phrase on the internet now.

Could anyone help explain this phrase? What could be a good translation? If provided with some references, would be more than better.

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    "It must be an archaic usage" No, it isn't. I believe it is just his catch phrase. The literal translation fits well.
    – user6495
    Nov 29, 2023 at 6:49

3 Answers 3

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First off: your thought, that it might mean something like "Damn it!""Sht!"* is - for your first quote - absolutely correct. As for the second quote i suppose @user1934428 got it right: two unpleasant things make one even more unpleasant combination.

If the phrase is "archaic" I am not so sure of. It is definitely not used today and I wonder if it ever was. The character Osmin serves as, to say it in modern terms, a "comic relief" in the opera and I suppose this (perhaps made-up) phrase is a device to identify him - similar to "infinity and beyond" for Buzz Lightyear of "Toy Story" fame or "Bazinga!" for Sheldon Cooper from "Big Bang Theory".

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To me, Gift und Dolch is meant as an replacement for the common phrase Tod und Teufel. They probably used that in the libretto to add an “oriental” flair to it — as they likely don't use the same curses as Europeans do, or do they?

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Poison and dagger are both unpleasant means to get killed by, and I guess that the "und" is used because two unpleasant things together must be even more unpleasant.

Is it archaic? Perhaps somewhat, as I have never heard it in real life yet, perhaps because daggers are nowadays out of fashion.

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