Who Wouldn’t Love Shakespeare?


Who Wouldn’t Love Shakespeare?

Are you familiar with the name William Shakespeare? Well, if you are interested in the English language you better be!

Shakespeare’s impact on the English as we know today is impossible to ignore. He wrote many influential plays to English literature such as “Othello”, “King Lear”, “Hamlet”, “Macbeth” and “Romeo and Juliet”, and in those plays, he created many words and phrases that are still widely used by English speakers.

Here are the 60 sayings in English that their earliest recorded use in history are from Shakespeare’s plays and their meanings:

“Fancy-free”: Not emotionally involved with or committed to anyone. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Lie low”: Keep out of sight; avoid detection or attention. – Much Ado About Nothing

“Send packing”: Fire; send away rudely. – Henry IV

“Foregone conclusion”: A result that can be predicted with certainty. – Othello


“A sorry sight”: A regrettable and unwelcome aspect or feature. – Macbeth

“For goodness sake”: Used to express surprise, amazement, frustration or annoyance. – Henry VIII

“Good riddance”: Said to express relief at being free of an unwanted person or thing.  – The Merchant of Venice

“Neither here not there”: of no importance or relevance. – Othello

“Mum’s the word”:  say nothing; do not reveal a secret. – Henry VI, Part II

“What’s done is done”: Said when you cannot change something that has already happened. – Macbeth

“Break the ice”: do or say something to relieve tension or get a conversation going in a strained situation or when strangers meet. – The Taming of the Shrew

“Scuffle”: A short, confused fight or struggle at close quarters or an act or sound of moving in a hurried, confused, or shuffling manner. – Antony and Cleopatra

“Catch a cold”: Become infected with a cold. – Cymbeline


“Uncomfortable”: causing or feeling slight pain or physical discomfort. – Romeo and Juliet

“Manager”: A person responsible for controlling or administering an organisation or group of staff. – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

 “Devil incarnate”: The devil in human form. – Titus Andronicus

“Dishearten”: cause (someone) to lose determination or confidence. – Henry V

“Eventful”: marked by interesting or exciting events. – As You Like It

“New-fangled”: different from what one is used to; objectionable new. – Love’s Labour’s Lost

“Hot-blooded”: lustful; passionate. – King Lear

“Eaten out of house and home”: To waste and consume his substance, money etc. – Henry IV, Part II

“Rant”: speak or shout at length in an angry, impassioned way. – Hamlet

“Knock knock! Who’s there?”: is a “question-and-answer” joke, usually ending with a pun. – Macbeth

“With bated breath”: Breathing that is subdued because of some emotion or difficulty. – The Merchant of Venice

“Laughable”: so ludicrous as to be amusing. – The Merchant of Venice

“Negotiate”: obtain or bring about by discussion or find a way over or through. – Much Ado About Nothing

“Jaded”: bored or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something. – King Henry VI

“A wild goose chase”: a foolish and hopeless search for or pursuit of something unattainable. – Romeo and Juliet


“Assassination”: the action of assassinating someone. – Macbeth

“Too much of a good thing”: used in reference to the fact that something that is generally desirable or beneficial can be detrimental or unpleasant if experienced excessively.  – As You Like It

“A heart of gold”: To be very kind and generous. – Henry V

“Such stuff as dreams are made on” – The Tempest

“Fashionable”: characteristic of, influenced by, or representing a currently popular style. – Troilus and Cressida

“Puking”: The act of vomiting. – As You Like It

“Dead as a doornail”: Dead, devoid of life, finished with, unusable – Henry VI, Part II

“Not slept one wink”: I haven’t slept at all. – Cymbeline

“The world’s mine oyster”: All the pleasures and opportunities of life are open to someone because he is young, rich, handsome, successful, etc. – The Merry Wives of Windsor

“Obscene”: Offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency. – Love’s Labour’s Lost

“Bedazzled”: Greatly impress (someone) with outstanding ability. – The Taming of the Shrew

“In stitches”: Laughing uncontrollably. – Twelfth Night

“Addiction”: The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity. – Othello

“Faint-hearted”: Lacking courage; timid. – Henry VI, Part I

“At one fell swoop”: Suddenly; in a single action. – Macbeth

“Vanish into thin air”: Disappear without a trace. – Othello

“Swagger”: a very confident and arrogant or self-important gait or manner. – Henry V

“Own flesh and blood”: One’s flesh and blood may refer to one’s family, or may denote all mankind. It is also used to denote the living material of which people are mostly composed. – Hamlet

“Zany”: Amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic. – Love’s Labour’s Lost

“Give the devil his due”: if someone or something generally considered bad or undeserving has any redeeming features these should be acknowledged. – Henry IV, Part I


“There’s method in my madness”: One having a good reason for his/her unconventional, awkward behaviour. – Hamlet

“Grovel”: Lie or crawl abjectly on the ground with one’s face downwards. – Henry IV

“Lonely”: sad because one has no friends or company. – Coriolanus

“Unreal”: imaginary or illusory. – Macbeth

“Salad days”: The period when one is young and inexperienced. – Antony and Cleopatra

“Spotless reputation”: Being known as extremely clean; good reputation. – Richard II


“Full circle”:  To return to the original position or state of affairs. – King Lear

“Epileptic”: Elating to or suffering from epilepsy. – King Lear

“Arch-villain”: Is the principal enemy of someone or something. In fiction, it is a character who is the hero’s or protagonist’s most prominent and worst enemy. – Timon of Athens

“Bloodstained”: Marked or covered with blood. – Titus Andronicus

“All of a sudden”: Very quickly. – The Taming of the Shrew

“Come what, come may”: Let whatever events crop up come to pass. – Macbeth

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