The Free Dictionary Blog > Literature and History > 59 times you quoted Shakespeare without knowing it

59 times you quoted Shakespeare without knowing it

Do you know how many words Shakespeare invented? Take a look at this list of William Shakespeare quotes and you'll find 59 phrases and words coined by Shakespeare that have lived on in our everyday speech. It's a long list, but you can't have too much of a good thing!

1. Knock knock! Who's there?

  • Here's a knocking indeed! If a man were porter of Hell
  • Gate, he should have old turning the key. [Knocking within.]
  • Knock, knock, knock! Who's there, i' the name of Belzebub? Here's
  • a farmer that hanged himself on th' expectation of plenty. Come
  • in time! Have napkins enow about you; here you'll sweat fort.
  • [Knocking within.] Knock, knock! Who's there, in th' other
  • devil's name?

2. All the world's a stage

  • All the world's a stage,
  • And all the men and women merely players;
  • They have their exits and their entrances;
  • And one man in his time plays many parts,
  • His acts being seven ages.

3. Puking

  • At first the infant,
  • Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;
  • Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
  • And shining morning face, creeping like snail
  • Unwillingly to school.

4. Neither here nor there

  • DESDEMONA: [Sings.] "I call'd my love false love; but what said he then?
  • Sing willow, willow, willow.
  • If I court moe women, you'll couch with moe men-"
  • So get thee gone; good night. Mine eyes do itch;
  • Doth that bode weeping?
EMILIA: 'Tis neither here nor there.

5. Salad days

  • My salad days,
  • When I was green in judgment, cold in blood,
  • To say as I said then. But come, away!
  • Get me ink and paper.
  • He shall have every day a several greeting,
  • Or I'll unpeople Egypt.

6. Eaten out of house and home

  • It is more than for some, my lord; it is for all—ll I have.
  • He hath eaten me out of house and home; he hath put all my
  • substance into that fat belly of his. But I will have some of it
  • out again, or I will ride thee a nights like a mare.

7. With bated breath

  • Shall I bend low and, in a bondman's key,
  • With bated breath and whisp'ring humbleness,
  • Say this:
  • 'Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last,
  • You spurn'd me such a day; another time
  • You call'd me dog; and for these courtesies
  • I'll lend you thus much moneys'?

8. Too much of a good thing

  • Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing? Come,
  • sister, you shall be the priest, and marry us. Give me your hand,
  • Orlando. What do you say, sister?

9. Such stuff as dreams are made on

  • We are such stuff
  • As dreams are made on; and our little life
  • Is rounded with a sleep.

10. What the dickens

  • I cannot tell what the dickens his name is my
  • husband had him of. What do you call your knight's
  • name, sirrah?

11. Dead as a doornail

  • Brave thee? Ay, by the best blood that ever was broach'd, and
  • beard thee too. Look on me well: I have eat no meat these five
  • days, yet come thou and thy five men and if I do not leave you
  • all as dead as a door-nail, I pray God I may never eat grass
  • more.

12. Lie low

  • If he could right himself with quarrelling,
  • Some of us would lie low.

13. Not slept one wink

  • O gracious lady,
  • Since I received command to do this business
  • I have not slept one wink.
Cymbeline

14. The world is my oyster

  • Why, then the world's mine oyster. Which I with
  • sword will open.

15. Bedazzled

  • Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes,
  • That have been so bedazzled with the sun
  • That everything I look on seemeth green;
  • Now I perceive thou art a reverend father.
  • Pardon, I pray thee, for my mad mistaking.

16. A pound of flesh

  • Tarry a little; there is something else.
  • This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood:
  • The words expressly are "a pound of flesh."
  • Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
  • But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
  • One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
  • Are, by the laws of Venice, confiscate
  • Unto the state of Venice.

17. The naked truth

  • The naked truth of it is: I have no shirt; I go woolward
  • for penance.

18. Send him packing

  • FALSTAFF: What doth gravity out of his bed at midnight? Shall I give him
  • his answer?
  • PRINCE: Prithee do, Jack.
  • FALSTAFF: Faith, and I'll send him packing.

19. Thin air

  • Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
  • As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
  • Are melted into air, into thin air;
  • And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
  • The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
  • The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
  • Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
  • And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
  • Leave not a rack behind.

20. Swagger

  • An't please your Majesty, a rascal that swagger'd with me
  • last night; who, if 'a live and ever dare to challenge this
  • glove, I have sworn to take him a box o' th' ear; or if I can see
  • my glove in his cap—which he swore, as he was a soldier, he
  • would wear if alive—I will strike it out soundly.

21. Own flesh and blood

  • I'll be sworn, if thou be
  • Launcelot, thou art mine own flesh and blood.

22. Truth will out

  • Give me your blessing;
  • truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long; a man's son
  • may, but in the end truth will out.

23. It's all Greek to me

  • I'll ne'er look you i' the face
  • again; but those that understood him smiled at one another and
  • shook their heads; but for mine own part, it was Greek to me.

24. Give the devil his due

  • Sir John stands to his word, the devil shall have his
  • bargain; for he was never yet a breaker of proverbs. He will give
  • the devil his due.

25. Wild-goose chase

  • Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done; for thou
  • hast more of the wild goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I
  • have in my whole five. Was I with you there for the goose?

26. Wear my heart on my sleeve

  • For when my outward action doth demonstrate
  • The native act and figure of my heart
  • In complement extern, 'tis not long after
  • But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
  • For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

27. Play fast and loose

  • Play fast and loose with faith? so jest with heaven,
  • Make such unconstant children of ourselves,
  • As now again to snatch our palm from palm,
  • Unswear faith sworn, and on the marriage-bed
  • Of smiling peace to march a bloody host,
  • And make a riot on the gentle brow
  • Of true sincerity?

28. Spotless reputation

  • Take but my shame,
  • And I resign my gage. My dear dear lord,
  • The purest treasure mortal times afford
  • Is spotless reputation; that away,
  • Men are but gilded loam or painted clay.
  • A jewel in a ten-times barr'd-up chest
  • Is a bold spirit in a loyal breast.

29. One fell swoop

  • He has no children. All my pretty ones?
  • Did you say all? O hell-kite! All?
  • What, all my pretty chickens and their dam
  • At one fell swoop?

30. Come what may

  • Come what come may,
  • Time and the hour runs through the roughest day.

31. Livelong day

  • O you hard hearts, you cruel men of Rome,
  • Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
  • Have you climb'd up to walls and battlements,
  • To towers and windows, yea, to chimney tops,
  • Your infants in your arms, and there have sat
  • The livelong day with patient expectation
  • To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome.

32. All our yesterdays

  • Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow
  • Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
  • To the last syllable of recorded time;
  • And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
  • The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
  • Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
  • That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
  • And then is heard no more. It is a tale
  • Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
  • Signifying nothing.

33. As good luck would have it

  • As good luck would have it, comes
  • in one Mistress Page, gives intelligence of Ford's approach;
  • and, in her invention and Ford's wife's distraction, they
  • convey'd me into a buck-basket.

34. As merry as the day is long

  • So deliver I up my apes, and away to Saint Peter—for the heavens.
  • He shows me where the bachelors sit, and there live we as merry
  • as the day is long.

35. The be-all and the end-all

  • If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
  • It were done quickly. If the assassination
  • Could trammel up the consequence, and catch,
  • With his surcease, success; that but this blow
  • Might be the be-all and the end-all—here,
  • But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
  • We'ld jump the life to come.

36. Neither a borrower nor a lender be

  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
  • For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
  • And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
Hamlet

37. Brave new world

  • O, wonder!
  • How many goodly creatures are there here!
  • How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
  • That has such people in't!

38. Break the ice

  • If it be so, sir, that you are the man
  • Must stead us all, and me amongst the rest;
  • And if you break the ice, and do this feat,
  • Achieve the elder, set the younger free
  • For our access- whose hap shall be to have her
  • Will not so graceless be to be ingrate.

39. Brevity is the soul of wit

  • Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
  • And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
  • I will be brief: your noble son is mad.
Hamlet

40. Now is the winter of our discontent

  • Now is the winter of our discontent
  • Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
  • And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
  • In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

41. Cold comfort

  • Poison'd-ill-fare! Dead, forsook, cast off;
  • And none of you will bid the winter come
  • To thrust his icy fingers in my maw,
  • Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course
  • Through my burn'd bosom, nor entreat the north
  • To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips
  • And comfort me with cold. I do not ask you much;
  • I beg cold comfort; and you are so strait
  • And so ingrateful you deny me that.

42. A dish fit for the gods

  • O, that we then could come by Caesar's spirit,
  • And not dismember Caesar! But, alas,
  • Caesar must bleed for it! And, gentle friends,
  • Let's kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;
  • Let's carve him as a dish fit for the gods,
  • Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds;
  • And let our hearts, as subtle masters do,
  • Stir up their servants to an act of rage
  • And after seem to chide 'em.

43. The dogs of war

  • All pity choked with custom of fell deeds,
  • And Caesar's spirit ranging for revenge,
  • With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
  • Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
  • Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war,
  • That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
  • With carrion men, groaning for burial.

44. Let's kill all the lawyers

  • DICK: The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
  • CADE: Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable thing, that
  • of the skin of an innocent lamb should be made parchment? That
  • parchment, being scribbl'd o'er, should undo a man? Some say the
  • bee stings; but I say 'tis the bee's wax; for I did but seal once
  • to a thing, and I was never mine own man since.

45. Faint-hearted

  • Faint-hearted Woodville, prizest him fore me?
  • Arrogant Winchester, that haughty prelate
  • Whom Henry, our late sovereign, ne'er could brook!
  • Thou art no friend to God or to the King.
  • Open the gates, or I'll shut thee out shortly.

46. Fancy-free

  • That very time I saw, but thou couldst not,
  • Flying between the cold moon and the earth
  • Cupid, all arm'd; a certain aim he took
  • At a fair vestal, throned by the west,
  • And loos'd his love-shaft smartly from his bow,
  • As it should pierce a hundred thousand hearts;
  • But I might see young Cupid's fiery shaft
  • Quench'd in the chaste beams of the wat'ry moon;
  • And the imperial vot'ress passed on,
  • In maiden meditation, fancy-free.

47. Forever and a day

  • ROSALIND: Now tell me how long you would have her, after you have
  • possess'd her.
  • ORLANDO: For ever and a day.

48. For goodness' sake

  • For goodness' sake, consider what you do;
  • How you may hurt yourself, ay, utterly
  • Grow from the King's acquaintance, by this carriage.

49. Foregone conclusion

  • But this denoted a foregone conclusion.
  • 'Tis a shrewd doubt, though it be but a dream.

50. Full circle

  • Th' hast spoken right; 'tis true.
  • The wheel is come full circle; I am here.

51. The game is afoot

Before the game is afoot thou still let'st slip.

52. Good riddance

  • THERSITES: I will see you hang'd like clotpoles ere I come any more
  • to your tents. I will keep where there is wit stirring, and leave
  • the faction of fools
  • Exit
  • PATROCLUS: A good riddance.

53. Jealousy is the green-eyed monster

  • O, beware, my lord, of jealousy!
  • It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock
  • The meat it feeds on.

54. Heart of gold

  • The King's a bawcock and a heart of gold,
  • A lad of life, an imp of fame;
  • Of parents good, of fist most valiant.
  • I kiss his dirty shoe, and from heart-string
  • I love the lovely bully.

55. In my heart of hearts

  • Those blood and judgment are so well commingled
  • That they are not a pipe for Fortune's finger
  • To sound what stop she please. Give me that man
  • That is not passion's slave, and I will wear him
  • In my heart's core, ay, in my heart of heart,
  • As I do thee. Something too much of this I
  • There is a play to-night before the King.

56. In my mind's eye

  • HAMLET: My father—methinks I see my father.
  • HORATIO: O, where, my lord?
  • HAMLET: In my mind's eye, Horatio.

57. Love is blind

  • I am glad 'tis night, you do not look on me,
  • For I am much asham'd of my exchange;
  • But love is blind, and lovers cannot see
  • The pretty follies that themselves commit,
  • For, if they could, Cupid himself would blush
  • To see me thus transformed to a boy.

58. Set my teeth on edge

  • I had rather hear a brazen canstick turn'd
  • Or a dry wheel grate on the axletree,
  • And that would set my teeth nothing on edge,
  • Nothing so much as mincing poetry.
  • 'Tis like the forc'd gait of a shuffling nag.

59. All's Well That Ends Well

Do you know any other phrases or words that Shakespeare coined?
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