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15 Everyday Phrases Coined by Shakespeare

In honor of the great Bard’s birthday, today, we explore 15 phrases coined by Shakespeare.

While many of us are familiar with the more famous quotes, such as “to be or not to be,” dozens of lesser-known expressions are still commonly used today.

Many of these phrases originated in Shakespeare’s plays, while others were first uttered by the man himself in everyday conversation.

Here at Booklyst, we have prepared a list of everyday phrases that take their origins from Willian Shakespeare plays.

“For goodness’ sake”

This phrase appears in several Shakespeare plays, including The Merry Wives of Windsor and Henry VIII.

It is typically used as an exclamation to show one’s surprise or exasperation.

“As blind as a bat”

This expression comes from The Merchant of Venice, where the character of Gratiano says, “I am as mad as a March hare. I do pray your worship to pardon me. I am not in my perfect mind.”

The phrase means that the person is crazy or irrational and is still commonly used today.

“Bump into”

Originally appearing in the play As You Like It, this phrase means running into or colliding with someone or something.

It is now commonly used to describe meeting someone by chance.

“In a pickle”

This phrase comes from The Tempest, where the character of Ariel says, “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with asleep.”

It means to be in a difficult or troublesome situation and is still used today.

“Wear your heart on your sleeve”

This phrase comes from Othello, where the character of Iago says, “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! The green-eyed monster doth mock the meat it feeds on.”

The phrase’s meaning is to show one’s feelings openly, and it is still commonly used today.

“In stitches”

This phrase comes from The Taming of the Shrew, where Petruchio says, “Why, Sirrah, ’tis an arrant witch: and she hath picked my pocket: I am sure of it.”

The phrase means laughing so hard that one is crying and is still used today.

“Rotten to the core”

This phrase comes from Hamlet, where the character of Polonius says, “For he’s a man of wax: his thin skin’s peeled away by hot lies hatched in the seething brains of politicoes.”

The phrase means that someone is corrupt or evil at its core and is still commonly used today.

“Good riddance”

This phrase comes from Romeo and Juliet, where Mercutio says, “A plague o’ both your houses! They have made worms’ meat of me: I have it, and soundly too.”

The phrase is typically used when someone is happy to be rid of something or someone and is still used today.

“Wild-goose chase”

This phrase comes from Romeo and Juliet, where the character of Mercutio says, “Nay, I’ll conjure too. Romeo! Humours! Madman! Passion! Lover! Appear thou in the likeness of a sigh: Speak but one rhyme, and I am satisfied! Cry but ‘Ay me!’ pronounce but ‘love’ and ‘dove;’ Speak to my gossip Venus one fair word, One nickname for her purblind son and heir, Young Abraham Cupid, he that shot so true When King Cophetua lov’d the beggar-maid!”

The phrase means a fruitless pursuit and is still used today.

“Break the ice”

This phrase comes from The Taming of the Shrew, where the character of Petruchio says, “Why, then, let them alone till they are married: if they meet before, all the better. An honest gentleman will not endure it. This same shall tie them fast enough.”

The phrase means to ease tension or break the awkwardness of a situation and is still in use today.

“It’s high time”

This phrase appears in several of Shakespeare’s plays, including Julius Caesar and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

It means that it is past time for something to happen and is still used today.

“What the dickens”

This phrase appears in several of Shakespeare’s plays, including The Merry Wives of Windsor and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

It is typically used as an exclamation of surprise or frustration and is still used today.

“Eaten out of house and home”

This phrase comes from Henry IV, Part II, where the character of Falstaff says, “I have kept since I was three years old: ever since I could stand.”

The phrase means to be eaten out of one’s house, or all of one’s food eaten and is still used today.

“For goodness’ sake”

This phrase comes from King Lear, where the character of Lear says, “Goodness forbid!”

The phrase is typically used to express shock or dismay and is still used today.

“Bad blood”

This phrase comes from Macbeth, where the character of Macbeth says, “There’s none but he Whose being I do fear: and under him, My Genius is rebuked; as it is said, Mark Antony’s was by Caesar.”

The phrase means animosity or ill will between people and is still used today.

Were you surprised to find out which phrases have been coined by Shakespeare? Let us know in comments 🙂

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