The Language of Shakespeare – Modern Terms Coined by the Bard

Shakespeare Portrait

We really do speak the language of Shakespeare today. You will be amazed at the expressions and words that we commonly use and are attributed to the great bard himself. The continued popularity of Shakespeare’s writing keeps 16th- and 17th-century words alive that might have otherwise faded into obscurity. Here are a selection …


A fool’s paradise Romeo and Juliet

Nurse: Now, afore God, I am so vexed, that every part about me quivers. Scurvy knave! Pray you, sir, a word: and as I told you, my young lady bade me inquire you out; what she bade me say, I will keep to myself: but first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her into a fool’s paradise, as they say, it were a very gross kind of behaviour, as they say: for the gentlewoman is young; and, therefore, if you should deal double with her, truly it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing.

Bated breath The Merchant of Venice

Shylock: Go to then, you come to me, and you say, “Shylock, we would have moneys,” you say so. . . . Shall I bend low and in a bondman’s key, With bated breath and whisp’ring humbleness, Say this: “Fair sir, you spet on me 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”?

Come full circle King Lear

Edgar : The gods are just, and of our pleasant vices Make instruments to plague us: The dark and vicious place where thee he got Cost him his eyes. Edmund: Th’ hast spoken right, ’tis true. The wheel is come full circle, I am here.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be Hamlet

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

The world’s mine oyster The Merry Wives of Windsor

Falstaff : I will not lend thee a penny. Pistol : Why then the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open.

Wear my heart on my sleeve Othello

Iago : It is as sure as you are Roderigo, Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago. In following him, I follow but myself; Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty, But seeming so, for my peculiar end; 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.


be·daz·zle   [bih-daz-uhl]
verb (used with object), be·daz·zled, be·daz·zling.
1. to impress forcefully, especially so as to make oblivious to faults or shortcomings: Audiences were bedazzled by her charm.
2. to dazzle so as to blind or confuse: The glare of the headlights bedazzled him.
foul·mouthed   [foul-mouthd, -moutht]
using obscene, profane, or scurrilous language; given to filthy or abusive speech.
swag·ger   [swag-er]
verb (used without object)
1. to walk or strut with a defiant or insolent air.
2. to boast or brag noisily.
verb (used with object)
3. to bring, drive, force, etc., by blustering.
4. swaggering manner, conduct, or walk; ostentatious display of arrogance and conceit.
pag·eant·ry   [paj-uhn-tree]
noun, plural pag·eant·ries.
1. spectacular display; pomp: the pageantry of a coronation.
2. mere show; empty display.
3. pageants collectively; pageants and the performance of pageants.
in·au·di·ble   [in-aw-duh-buhl]
not audible; incapable of being heard.

Author: Robert

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