Everyday phrases attributable to “The Bard”

Mary Jean Giotta was my English and literature teacher in middle school and high school. She exposed us to Shakespeare and helped to instill a love and appreciation for his works. I’m known for my obsolete, dated and funky phrases. My poor children have adopted many of them.

I thought you would enjoy seeing the origins of some common phrases we just spit out without thinking how they began:

A laughing stock (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

A sorry sight (Macbeth)

All that glitters is not gold (The Merchant of Venice)(“glisters”)

All’s well that ends well (Title)

As good luck would have it (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

As dead as a doornail (Henry VI)

Eaten out of house and home (Henry V, Part 2)

Bated breath (The Merchant of Venice)

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

Bear a charmed life (Macbeth)

Be-all and the end-all (Macbeth)

Fair play (The Tempest)

I will wear my heart upon my sleeve (Othello)

In a pickle (The Tempest) In stitches (Twelfth Night)

In the twinkling of an eye (The Merchant Of Venice)

Mum’s the word (Henry VI, Part 2)

Neither here nor there (Othello)

Send him packing (Henry IV)

Set your teeth on edge (Henry IV)

There’s method in my madness (Hamlet)

Too much of a good thing (As You Like It)

Vanish into thin air (Othello)

Give the devil his due (I Henry IV)

Good riddance (Troilus and Cressida)

Neither a borrower nor a lender be (Hamlet)

Brave new world (The Tempest)

Break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew)

Breathed his last (3 Henry VI)

Refuse to budge an inch (Measure for Measure / Taming of the Shrew)

Dead as a doornail (2 Henry VI)

Devil incarnate (Titus Andronicus / Henry V)

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)

Fancy-free (Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Forever and a day (As You Like It)

For goodness’ sake (Henry VIII)

Foregone conclusion (Othello)

Full circle (King Lear)

It was Greek to me (Julius Caesar)

Heart of gold (Henry V)

‘Tis high time (The Comedy of Errors)

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