Each year we celebrate the man who made the most notable impact on the English language. William Shakespeare coined some of the most well known and widely used phrases in dialects across the world. Taken from his iconic plays, Shakespeare’s words and work continue to live on, not only through British culture but has effected global language also.
Here are our favourite seven phrases, still used to this day and the meanings behind them…
A sorry sight – Taken from Macbeth
Originally used to describe; A regrettable and unwelcome aspect or feature. Now also used to mean something or someone of untidy appearance.
All’s well that ends well – Taken from All’s Well That Ends Well
This is, of course, best known from the Shakespeare play, but it was a proverb before it was a play title. The original use of the phrase; If the outcome of a difficult situation is happy this compensates the unpleasantness. The use in today’s language is much the same.
All that glitters is not gold – Taken from Merchant of Venice
The phrase has the same meaning now as it did when coined; When something that appears to be fantastic/attractive is actually in fact worthless or of lesser attraction.
Fair play – Taken from The Tempest
A phrase used in a number of dialects for various situations. Its original use to describe; Properly conducted conditions for a game, giving all participants an equal chance. Also used more widely to mean fairness and justice in contexts other social situations.
What’s done is done – Taken from Macbeth
Probably one of the widest used phrases used in Latin cultures as well as wider European dialects. The phrases simply means; Whatever has happened cannot be undone, nothing will be able to change the outcome.
The world’s my oyster – Taken from Merry Wives of Windsor
This is the most relevant of this series to our industry. In its original form it meant; You have the freedom to go and do whatever you wish. Today the phrase is more widely used as an expression of optimism and desire to travel, experience new countries and cultures.
Fight fire with fire – Taken from King John
Another phrase used globally with the same meaning the world over. Used by leaders and dictators, sportsmen and campaigners, this powerful expression means; To respond to an attack by using a similar method as one’s attacker.
Love or loathe Shakespeare, his influence on the language of today is still there for all to see. Centuries after his first play, we still adopt his idioms and terminology across the globe, making him a true linguistic powerhouse.
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