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Shakespeare's Phrases

William Shakespeare coined many popular phrases that we still use today

Even though William Shakespeare wrote over 400 years ago, we continue to use words and phrases found in his sonnets and plays today. You could be quoting Shakespeare without knowing it! Read on to learn more phrases that we attribute to Shakespeare's plays.

Shakespeare's Phrases

As You Like it 1992

We have seen better days
     We are in poor condition, worn out
     As You Like It, Act 2 Scene 7

Too much of a good thing
 Even good things can hurt in excess
     As You Like It, Act 4 Scene 1

Neither rhyme nor reason
Without common sense or logic
     The Comedy of Errors, Act 2 Scene 2

I have not slept one wink
I did not sleep at all
     Cymbeline, Act 3 Scene 4

Ophelia cropped

Cruel to be kind
     Tough love, being harsh for their benefit
     Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 4

The clothes make the man
People are judged by the way they dress
     Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3

In my heart of hearts
In my most inner, true thoughts and feelings
     Hamlet, Act 3 Scene 2

Own flesh and blood
Part of my family
     Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 5

Julius Caesar 2009

He hath eaten me out of house and home
He ate so much there was nothing left
     Henry IV Part 2, Act 2 Scene 1

A dish fit for the Gods
A high-quality meal
     Julius Caesar, Act 2 Scene 1

It's Greek to me
     It's unintelligible, I cannot understand
     Julius Caesar, Act 1 Scene 2

Sterner stuff
Strong; capable of overcoming trials
     Julius Caesar, Act 3 Scene 2

Macbeth 2004

The be-all and the end-all
Of the utmost importance; the ultimate aim
     Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 7

Jealousy is the green-eyed monster
     Envy is so strong it makes one sick
     Othello, Act 3 Scene 3

What's done is done
 I cannot change what has happened in the past
     Macbeth, Act 3 Scene 2

Something wicked this way comes
     A person so evil, he or she is not human
     Macbeth, Act 4 Scene 1

Othello 1959 cropped

Foregone conclusion
An inevitable result
     Othello, Act 3 Scene 3

Wear my heart upon my sleeve
     To expose my feelings, be vulnerable
     Othello, Act 1 Scene 1

All that glitters isn't gold
Things are not as good as they appear to be
     The Merchant of Venice, Act 2 Scene 7

A blinking idiot
     A fool
     The Merchant of Venice, Act 2 Scene 9

Richard III cropped

The world is my oyster
     I can achieve whatever I want to in life
     The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 2 Scene 2

Short shrift
Little and unsympathetic attention
     Richard III, Act 3 Scene 4

A tower of strength
A person you can rely on for support
     Richard III, Act 5 Scene 3

Star-crossed lovers
     Lovers doomed by outside forces
     Romeo and Juliet, Prologue

The Tempest cropped

Wild-goose chase
     A hopeless search for something unattainable
     Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 Scene 4

Break the ice
To reduce the awkward, initial social tension
     Taming of the Shrew, Act 1 Scene 2

Brave new world
     Used ironically to refer to a new, hopeful period
     The Tempest, Act 5 Scene 1

Melted into thin air
To disappear suddenly, leaving no traces
     The Tempest, Act 4 Scene 1

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