Brush up your Shakespeare…..

Naked truth – faint-hearted – send him packing – vanish into thin air. When did you last use any of these phrases?

imageIt’s Shakespeare’s 400th birthday this week, on 23 April. I’ve never really got on with Shakespeare, as my school experiences with The Bard were not that good. I remember having to read Macbeth, Julius Caesar and The Winter’s Tale, and I think I saw a play of Twelfth Night, but everything was just gobbledegook to me, and I cannot remember a thing about any of them.

Is it only in the UK that students are forced to study Shakespeare, or do you have to study it in other countries? Do let me know.


As Shakespeare has been in the news a lot this week in UK, and special radio and TV programmes are going to be aired, I thought I would do some internet research about why he is still popular.


One reason is because he introduced many new words to the English language, which are still used today. It is often not clear whether a word or phrase was already in existence in Shakespeare’s lifetime, or if he invented it. Regardless, his plays often provide us with the earliest use of many of these words and phrases.

Most of us will have quoted Shakespeare thousands of times, without knowing it.

How many times have you used these words and phrases?

“For goodness sake” – Henry VIII

– “Neither here not there” – Othello

– “Mum’s the word” – Henry VI, Part II

– “Eaten out of house and home” – Henry IV, Part II

– “Rant” – Hamlet

– “Knock knock! Who’s there?” – Macbeth

– “All’s well that ends well” – All’s Well That Ends Well

– “With bated breath” – The Merchant of Venice

– “A wild goose chase” – Romeo and Juliet

– “Assassination” – Macbeth

– “Too much of a good thing” – As You Like It

– “A heart of gold” – Henry V

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

– “Fashionable” – Troilus and Cressida

– “What the dickens” – The Merry Wives of Windsor

– “Puking” – As You Like It

– “Lie low” – Much Ado About Nothing

– “Dead as a doornail” – Henry VI, Part II

“Not slept one wink” -Cymbeline

– “Foregone conclusion” – Othello

– “The world’s mine oyster” – The Merry Wives of Windsor

– “Obscene” – Love’s Labour’s Lost

– “Bedazzled” – The Taming of the Shrew


Shakespeare play being performed on stage.

– “In stitches” – Twelfth Night

– “Addiction” – Othello

– “Swagger” – Henry V

– “Own flesh and blood” – Hamlet

– “Truth will out” – The Merchant of Venice

– “Zany” – Love’s Labour’s Lost

– “Give the devil his due” – Henry IV, Part I

– “There’s method in my madness” – Hamlet

– “Salad days” – Antony and Cleopatra

– “Wear your heart on your sleeve” – Othello

– “Spotless reputation” – Richard II

– “Full circle” – King Lear

– “There’s the rub” – Hamlet

– “All of a sudden” – The Taming of the Shrew

– “Come what, come may” – Macbeth

Have you used any of Shakespeare’s phrases recently?


10 thoughts on “Brush up your Shakespeare…..

  1. In the USA we have to learn Shakespeare too, Romeo and Juliette, Merchant of Venice and Hamlet are the ones I recall having to read. We have a handy little thing in the US called Cliff’s Notes which is a mini book that explains it all in plain English. Do you have those?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, we definitely have something similar. I remember getting hold of one for Julius Caesar and reading it all the way through, the night before the English Literature exam. I still didn’t pass!


  2. I have probably used some of the phrases, but no knowing that they were from Shjakespeare. For me he was the curse of grammar school days, especially the comedies, which I never really found funny. I was more into the tragedies and the action plays, but my school wasn’t unfortunately.


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