Surprising Sayings We Owe to William Shakespeare


shakesspeareAs a self-proclaimed loser word nerd, my absolute favorite class in college was Shakespeare. Regardless if the dude even existed or not, I feel intimidated writing about him using my own pathetically limited vocabulary, as I am that enthralled and marveled by his English language skillz (sorry, Will).

That's why I was so stoked to see the newest Tumblr hit sweeping the Internet world: "Things We Say Today Which We Owe to Shakespeare." There are so many things! I remember reading through his plays late at night for class, coming across phrases and sayings and having the light bulb in my head go off: So that's where that came from.

A 20-year-old from London named Becky scribbled down a bunch of these sayings in her notebook and posted it to Tumblr. And people love it! Who'da thunk it ... I mean, o, wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is!

I guess this is proof that Shakespeare and technology actually can get along. Here are just eight of the best from the wonderment that is Becky's list:

Love is blind: "But love is blind, and lovers cannot see/The petty follies that themselves commit." -- Jessica, The Merchant of Venice (this phrase appears in Two Gentlemen of Verona and Henry V)

Knock knock! Who's there?: "Knock, knock, knock! Who's there, i' th' name of Beelzebub? Here's a farmer that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty. Come in time, have napkins enough about you, here you'll sweat for 't." -- Drunk or hungover porter, Macbeth

Green-eyed monster: "O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!/It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock/The meat it feeds on." -- Iago, Othello

The world is my oyster: "Why then the world's mine oyster/Which I with sword will open." -- Pistol, The Merry Wives of Windsor

Wild goose chase: "Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done; for thou hast more of the wild goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five." -- Mercutio, Romeo & Juliet

In a pickle: "And Trinculo is reeling ripe: where should they find this grand liquor that hath gilded 'em? How camest thou in this pickle?" -- Alonso, The Tempest

Break the ice: "And if you break the ice and do this feat/Achieve the elder, set the younger free/For our access, whose hap shall be to have her/Will not so graceless be to be ingrate." -- Tranio, The Taming of the Shrew

Hair stand on end: "Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part/And each particular hair to stand on end/Like quills upon the fearful porpentine." -- Ghost, Hamlet

Did you know we had Shakespeare to thank for these phrases? I didn't!


Image via Tumblr

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Bubbl... Bubbles318

Shakespeare is also responsible for the word "alligator."

momve... momversuswild

cool!  I disagree with the love being blind quote though.  Love sees in FULL COLOR and embraces and celebrates the beauty of diversity :)

Allof... AllofFive19

There are a lot of words and phrases we owe to shakespeare. Daybreak is one of them.

Cafe Amy Cafe Amy

Love this!

Sweet... Sweet_Carol_126

I didn't realize that Shakespeare said all those quotes; however here are many things that are attributed to the Bible that were from either  William Shakespeare or Benjamin Franklin.  Both gave very succinct sentences that were filled with much larger and deeper meanings.  Scholars say that the king james Bible is stillused and the most correct scripture  and also has the finest language because it was at the height of artistic and lovely language during the Renaissance period.  All the scholars had to aslo approve of the language in order for it to be added whereas the other scriptures were selected in those versions by a majority.  So we have the language of Shakespeare's times in the Bible to have the most artistic language that we could have to state such spiritual and holy words.


Putri... PutridyCorpse

Deuteronomy 22:28-29

King James Version (KJV)


 28If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;

 29Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

How beautiful... 

Robert DiLallo

Great start, but you've just scratched the surface. His contribution to our everyday language (or at least his inclusion in his writing of popular phrases) is something beyond staggering. Essentially, you cannot go a day without uttering something Shakespeare wrote.

In the mind's eye. Not sleep a wink. Hot-blooded. Household word. A fool's paradise. Sea change. Sorry sight. Woe is me. What a piece of work. We have seen better days. Vanish into thin air. Too much of a good thing. Up in arms. To gild the lily. The long and the short of it. (Actually he wrote the short and the long of it.) Pound of flesh. salad days. Neither rhyme nor reason. Send him packing. Short shrift. In a pickle. In stitches. (To one's) heart's content. high time. In the twinkling of an eye. Good riddance. Fair play. Foul play. Eaten out of house and home. Exceedingly well read. Turning of the tide. It's Greek to me.

Endless... and I have just scratched the surface. Then there are everyday vocabulary words he coined. The Oxford English Dictionary credits Shakespeare as the first to use these words, among others: "arch-villain," "bedazzle," "cheap" (as in vulgar or flimsy), "dauntless," "embrace" (as a noun), "fashionable," "go-between," "honey-tongued," "inauspicious," "lustrous," "nimble-footed," "outbreak," "pander," "sanctimonious," "time-honored," "unearthly," "vulnerable," and "well-bred."

There are countless websites that go into this in great depth.

Calli... CallieLynsMommy

Shakespeare was a genius! I wonder what phrases would be common if he had not been as popular as he was?

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