30 Popular Phrases in English Language That Shakespeare Originally Came Up With

Reading this list you’ll wonder if we can give Shakespeare credit for originating all the expressions, clichés, and common phrases you hear/use every day. Well, guess not. But Shakespeare is famous for inventing words and phrases when he couldn’t find them in the language already.  


This list contains some of the most popular phrases and expressions that he invented. It is not a comprehensive one by any means (for more, go to pathguy.com). We have only selected the most popular phrases that Shakespeare either coined or made common through his work.

Let’s start, shall we?

  1. 1 "Wild-goose chase."

    From Romeo and Juliet.

  2. 2 "What's done is done."

    From Macbeth.

  3. 3 "Wear my heart upon my sleeve".

    From Othello.

  4. 4 "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

    From Romeo and Juliet.

  5. 5 "The world's my oyster."

    From Merry Wives of Windsor.

  6. 6 "Too much of a good thing."

    From As You Like It.

  7. 7 "The short and the long of it."

    From The Merry Wives of Windsor.

  8. 8 "Such stuff as dreams are made on."

    From The Tempest.

  9. 9 "Sick at heart."

    From Hamlet.

  10. 10 "Not slept one wink."

    From Cymbeline.

  11. 11 "For goodness' sake."

    From Henry VIII.

  12. 12 "The game is up."

    From Cymbeline.

  13. 13 "Bated breath."

    From The Merchant of Venice.

  14. 14 "Refuse to budge an inch."

    From Measure for Measure and Taming of the Shrew.

  15. 15 "A dish fit for the gods."

    From Julius Caesar.

  16. 16 "Devil incarnate."

    From Titus Andronicus and Henry V.

  17. 17 "Foregone conclusion."

    From Othello.

  18. 18 "It was Greek to me."

    From Julius Caesar.

  19. 19 "In a pickle."

    From The Tempest.

  20. 20 "Laughing stock."

    From The Merry Wives of Windsor.

  21. 21 "Melted into thin air."

    From The Tempest.

  22. 22 "Lie low."

    From Much Ado about Nothing.

  23. 23 "Own flesh and blood."

    From Hamlet.

  24. 24 "Break the ice."

    From The Taming of the Shrew.

  25. 25 "Faint hearted."

    From I Henry VI.

  26. 26 "Full circle."

    From King Lear.

  27. 27 "Jealousy is the green-eyed monster."

    From Othello.

  28. 28 "Lean and hungry look."

    From Julius Caesar.

  29. 29 "Knock knock! Who's there?"

    From Macbeth.

  30. 30 "Brevity is the soul of wit."

    From Hamlet.

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