lay on, Macduff

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lay on, Macduff

Give it your best effort! Go ahead and try it! A line from Shakespeare's Macbeth, in which the title character issues a challenge to his enemy Macduff during their final confrontation. The senator says he wants to reform the healthcare system, to which I say, lay on, Macduff!
See also: lay

lay on, Macduff

Strike; attack violently. This imperative, straight from Shakespeare’s Macbeth (5.7), consists of Macbeth’s final words before he is killed by Macduff: “Before my body I throw my warlike shield. Lay on, Macduff, and damn’d be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!’” For some reason this vivid cry caught on enough to be used in any situation calling for vigorous action, and was a cliché from about 1800 on. From the late nineteenth century on it also was often misquoted as lead on, Macduff, which itself became a cliché; it, however, means “Let’s get going; start us off.”
See also: lay

lay on, Macduff

Go ahead and give it your best shot. Macduff, a character in Shakespeare's Macbeth, correctly suspected Macbeth of murdering King Duncan. After Macbeth murders Macduff's family, Macduff leads an army against Macbeth. Their final confrontation includes Macbeth's challenging line: “Lay on, Macduff; / And damned be him that first cries, ‘Hold, enough!'” People who wanted to show off their erudition and wit simultaneously used the phrase in any “Go ahead!” context until it became through overuse a very tired cliche´ to which the best response is “Who's Leon Macduff?”
See also: lay