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Common Phrases Coined by William Shakespeare

Common Phrases Coined by William Shakespeare
By Vida Cunningham July 31, 2017 No comments

When it comes to Shakespeare, phrases such as “et tu, Brute?” or “Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” may come to mind. We think of the language of Shakespeare as old English with many “thee” and “thou” words that are no longer in use.

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But, did you know that many of the most common phrases used in the English language today are attributed to and coined by Shakespeare? William Shakespeare, the 16 th century English poet, playwright and actor is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. The best-selling fiction author of all time whose writings have sold over 4 billion copies, has contributed a great many phrases to the modern English language, used everyday by the British as well as Americans.

Here are a few phrases that you may not have known came from Shakespeare:

“All our yesterdays” ~ ( Macbeth)

“As good luck would have it” ~ (The Merry Wives of Windsor )

“As merry as the day is long” ~ (Much Ado About Nothing / King John )

“Bated breath” ~ (The Merchant of Venice )

“Be-all and the end-all” ~ (Macbeth)

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” ~ (Hamlet)

“Brave new world” ~ (The Tempest )

“Break the ice” ~ (The Taming of the Shrew )

“Brevity is the soul of wit” ~ (Hamlet)

“Refuse to budge an inch” ~ (Measure for Measure / The Taming of the Shrew )

“Cold comfort” ~ (The Taming of the Shrew / King John )

“Conscience does make cowards of us all” ~ (Hamlet)

“Crack of doom” ~ (Macbeth)

“Dead as a doornail” ~ (Henry VI Part II )

“A dish fit for the gods” ~ (Julius Caesar )

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” ~ (Julius Caesar )

“Devil incarnate” ~ (Titus Andronicus / Henry V )

“Eaten me out of house and home” ~ (Henry IV Part II )

“Faint hearted” ~ (Henry VI Part I )

“Fancy-free” ~ (A Midsummer Night’s Dream )

“Forever and a day” ~ (As You Like It )

“For goodness’ sake” ~ (Henry VIII )

“Foregone conclusion” ~ (Othello)

“Full circle” ~ (King Lear )

“The game is afoot” ~ (Henry IV Part I )

“Give the devil his due” ~ (Henry IV Part I )

“Good riddance” ~ (Troilus and Cressida )

“Jealousy is the green-eyed monster” ~ (Othello)

“Heart of gold” ~ (Henry V )

“Hoist with his own petard” ~ (Hamlet)

“Ill wind which blows no man to good” ~ (Henry IV Part II )

“In my heart of hearts” ~ (Hamlet)

“In my mind’s eye” ~ (Hamlet)

“Kill with kindness” ~ (The Taming of the Shrew )

“Knock knock! Who’s there? ” ~ (Macbeth)

“Laughing stock” ~ (The Merry Wives of Windsor )

“Live long day” ~ (Julius Caesar )

“Love is blind” ~ (The Merchant of Venice )

“Milk of human kindness” ~ (Macbeth)

“More sinned against than sinning” ~ (King Lear )

“One fell swoop” ~ (Macbeth)

“Play fast and loose” ~ (King John )

“Set my teeth on edge” ~ (Henry IV Part I )

“Wear my heart upon my sleeve” ~ (Othello)

“Wild-goose chase” ~ (Romeo and Juliet )


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