Common Sayings We Got From Shakespeare


Today’s well-educated person uses an average of 18,000 words in their lifetime. Shakespeare used over 34,000 different words in his plays, thousands of which he simply made up (accessible, barefaced, exposure, lament, paternal, puke, roadway, schoolboy, and watchdog.) Many of his phrases have fallen into everyday use in our language today, including


A dish fit for the gods –  Julius Caesar21245_10151589464780708_1449294493_n

A foregone conclusion –  Othello

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! –  Richard III

A laughing stock –  The Merry Wives of Windsor

A plague on both your houses – Romeo and Juliet

A sorry sight –  Macbeth

All corners of the world –  Cymbeline

All our yesterdays – Macbeth

All that glitters is not gold – The Merchant of Venice

All’s well that ends well –  All’s Well That Ends Well

As dead as a doornail –  Henry VI

As good luck would have it –  The Merry Wives of Windsor

As pure as the driven snow –  The Winter’s Tale / Macbeth

At one fell swoop –  Macbeth

Bag and baggage – As You Like It / Winter’s Tale

Bated breath – The Merchant of Venice

Be- all and the end- all – Macbeth

Bear a charmed life – Macbeth

Beggar all description – Antony and Cleopatra

Better foot before – “best foot forward” – King John

Brave new world – The Tempest

Break the ice – The Taming of the Shrew

Breathed his last – 3 Henry VI

Brevity is the soul of wit – Hamlet

Cold comfort – The Taming of the Shrew / King John

Come what come may – “come what may” – Macbeth

Crack of doom – Macbeth

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war – Julius Caesar

Dead as a doornail – 2 Henry VI

Devil incarnate – Titus Andronicus / Henry V

Dog will have his day – Hamlet

Eaten me out of house and home – 2 Henry IV

Elbow room – King John; first attested 1540 according to Merriam- Webster

Faint hearted – I Henry VI

Fair play – The Tempest

Fancy free – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Fight till the last gasp – I Henry VI

Flaming youth – Hamlet

Flesh and blood – Hamlet

Fool’s paradise – Romeo and Juliet

For ever and a day –  As You Like It

For goodness’ sake – Henry VIII

Foregone conclusion – Othello

Forever and a day – As You Like It

Full circle – King Lear

Give the devil his due – I Henry IV

Good riddance – Troilus and Cressida

Green- eyed monster – Othello

Heart of gold – Henry V

High time – A Comedy of Errors

Hoist with his own petard – Hamlet

Household words – Henry V

I have not slept one wink – Cymbeline

I will wear my heart upon my sleeve – Othello

Ill wind which blows no man to good – 2 Henry IV

In a pickle – The Tempest

In my book of memory – I Henry VI

In my heart of hearts – Hamlet

In my mind’s eye – Hamlet

In stitches – Twelfth Night

In the twinkling of an eye – The Merchant Of Venice

Infinite space – Hamlet

It smells to heaven – Hamlet

It was Greek to me – Julius Caesar

Itching palm – Julius Caesar

Jealousy is the green- eyed monster – Othello

Kill with kindness – Taming of the Shrew

Killing frost – Henry VIII

Laughing stock – The Merry Wives of Windsor

Lean and hungry look – Julius Caesar

Lie low – Much Ado about Nothing

Live long day –Julius Caesar

Love is blind – The Merchant Of Venice

Make a virtue of necessity – The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Make short shrift – Richard III

Melted into thin air – The Tempest

Milk of human kindness – Macbeth

More in sorrow than in anger – Hamlet

More sinned against than sinning – King Lear

Mum’s the word – Henry VI, Part 2

Murder most foul – Hamlet

Naked truth – Love’s Labours Lost

Neither a borrower nor a lender be – Hamlet

Neither here nor there – Othello

Neither rhyme nor reason – As You Like It

Not slept one wink – Cymbeline

Obvious as a nose on a man’s face – The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Once more into the breach – Henry V

One fell swoop – Macbeth

One that loved not wisely but too well – Othello

Out of the jaws of death – Twelfth Night

Own flesh and blood – Hamlet

Parting is such sweet sorrow – Romeo and Juliet

Pitched battle – Taming of the Shrew

Play fast and loose – King John

Pomp and circumstance – Othello

Pound of flesh – The Merchant of Venice

Primrose path – Hamlet

Quality of mercy is not strained – The Merchant of Venice

Refuse to budge an inch – Measure for Measure

Salad days – Antony and Cleopatra

Sea change – The Tempest

Seen better days – As You Like It? Timon of Athens?

Send packing – I Henry IV

Set your teeth on edge – Henry IV

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day –Sonnets

Sick at heart – Hamlet

Snail paced – Troilus and Cressida

Something in the wind – The Comedy of Errors

Something wicked this way comes – Macbeth

Sound and fury – Macbeth

Spotless reputation – Richard II

Star- crossed lovers – Romeo and Juliet

Such stuff as dreams are made on – The Tempest

Sweets to the sweet – Hamlet

The better part of valor is discretion – I Henry IV

The dogs of war –  Julius Caesar

The game is up – Cymbeline

The Queen’s English – The Merry Wives of Windsor

The short and the long of it – The Merry Wives of Windsor

Thereby hangs a tale – Othello

There’s method in my madness –  Hamlet

There’s no such thing – Macbeth

There’s the rub – Hamlet

This is the short and the long of it – The Merry Wives of Windsor

This mortal coil – Hamlet

Time is out of joint – Hamlet

‘Tis high time – The Comedy of Errors

To thine own self be true – Hamlet

Too much of a good thing –  As You Like It

Tower of strength – Richard III

Trippingly on the tongue – Hamlet

Truth will out – The Merchant of Venice

Vanish into thin air – Othello

Violent delights have violent ends – Romeo and Juliet

Wear my heart upon my sleeve – Othello

What a piece of work is man – Hamlet

What fools these mortals be – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

What the dickens – The Merry Wives of Windsor

What’s done is done – Macbeth

What’s in a name? – Romeo and Juliet

Wild- goose chase – Romeo and Juliet

Witching time of night – Hamlet

Working- day world – As You Like It


Previous Post

Life In Elizabethan England

Next Post

ATMs On Site