A little more than kin, and less than kind.

from William Shakespeare – Hamlet Act 1 Scene 2 on Rap Genius

Meaning

A famous quote from the play; Hamlet makes a play on words to imply that Claudius is more than family (or kin) because not only is he Hamlet’s uncle, he is now his stepfather as well. Adding one more letter to kin would make him kind, but Hamlet expresses his distaste by claiming he is not so.

Although most modern editions of Hamlet indicate this line as an aside, and thus audible to the audience but not Claudius, it is not marked so in either the First Folio or the Second Quarto (the two most authoritative editions). Therefore, many actors have played this as a snarky comment directly to Claudius, while a few have played it as Hamlet talking to himself (or thinking it in his head in voiceover, as Ken Branagh presents it in his film).

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