Sunday, February 6, 2011

Famous phrases by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s supreme dramatist. Over his course of life (dying at the age of 52), he left behind a lot of recognizable work including numerous collaborations, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, 38 plays, and several other poems.

Five centuries later, we still use many of his famous phrases, not knowing they belong to the English playwright. Let’s see what Shakespeare really left behind.

1. “Come what may”: appeared in Macbeth in 1605 meaning whatever events crop up, come to pass.

2. “Fair play”: introduced by Shakespeare in The Tempest in 1610. It usually pertains to fairness and justice in all situations.

3. “Fight fire with fire”: used in the 1500’s in King John, meaning respond to an attack using the same weapon of the attacker.

4. “Forever and a day”: of course this has no literal meaning but it refers to an indefinite amount of time. It was introduced in 1596 in William’s comedy Taming of the Shrew.

5. “Wear your heart on your sleeve”: to display your feelings openly for everyone to see. Used in Othello in 1604 despite many people think it’s an Arabic proverb.

6. “Love is blind”: at some point that wasn’t a fact. This phrase was Shakespeare’s favorite where he used it several times in his plays like: Two gentlemen of Verona, Henry V, and The merchant of Venice.

7. “Makes your hair stand on end”: this phrase was first found in hamlet in 1602. It pertains to being so scared, your hair rises a bit (much like goose bumps).

8. “Send packing”: appeared in Henry IV, part I, 1596, meaning send someone away ignominiously.

9. “To be or not to be, that is the question”: a lot of people know that Shakespeare coined that phrase. But what they don’t know is that the question is speculating about whether it is better to live or to die. It appeared in Hamlet where he compared between the pain of life and the fear of uncertainty of death.

10. “Vanish into thin air”: Shakespeare invented the term “thin air” in the 16th century and since then it has been widely used. To vanish in thin air means to disappear real quickly with no trace.

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