10 Shakespeare Quotes that you can use in Modern English.

The English Language owes a huge debt of gratitude to William Shakespeare. Not only did he give us some of the worlds most memorable plays that have stood the test of time, he also enriched our language with a variety of wonderful English phrases.

In fact, a lot of common, modern English phrases originally come from Shakespeare quotes. Whilst researching this blog post, I was very surprised to find just how many Shakespeare quotes form part of our everyday, modern English usage.

Id like to share with you just 10 of these quotes. Ive given you the modern English phrase, its meaning with an example and the original Shakespeare quote.

The Merchant of Venice

1. Bated Breath- worried or excited and paying a lot of attention because you want to know what will happen

EX: We waitedwith bated breathto find out who had won.

Shylock: Shall I bend low and in a bondmans key, Withbated breathand whispring humbleness, (The Merchant of Venice)

2. Cruel to be kind-to say or do something to someone that seems unkind but is intended to help them

EX: I told her the facts sometimes you have to becruel to be kind.

Hamlet: So again good night. I must becruel only to be kind. Thus bad begins and worse remains behind. (Hamlet)

3. Foregone conclusion-a result that you can be certain about before it happens

EX: That the company was moving to California was aforegone conclusion.

Othello: O monstrous, monstrous! Iago: Nay, this was but his dream. Othello: But this denoteda foregone conclusion. (Othello)

4. Eat someone out of house and home (humorous)-to eat too much of someones food when you are a guest in their home

EX:My nephews came to see me at the weekend andate me out of house and home!

Hostess Quickly: Hehath eaten me out of house and home, he hath put all my substance into that fat belly of his (Henry IV Part 2)


5. Wear my heart on my sleeve-to make your feelings obvious to others

EX: You always know how Jack is feeling, because hewears his heart on his sleeve.

Iago: In complement extern, tis not long after But I will wearmy heart upon my sleeve (Othello)

6. In my heart of hearts-used when you know something is true but dont want to admit it

EX: In his heart of hearts, he knew that he would have to sell the company.

Hamlet: That is not passions slave, and I will wear him In my hearts core, ay,in my heart of heart,as I do thee. (Hamlet)

7. In/At one fell swoop-with one sudden action EX:In one fell swoop, hes destroyed everything weve achieved in the last year.

MacDuff (on hearing that all his family have been killed): What, all my pretty chickens, and their dam,at one fell swoop? (Macbeth)

8. Short shrift-a firm and immediate refusal to do something EX:I'll give themshort shriftif they ask me for money. Ratcliffe: Come, come, dispatch: the Duke would be at dinner Makea short shrift: he longs to see your head. (Richard the Third)

The Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeares Globe in London

9. What the Dickens(informal, old fashioned) -used for emphasising a question when you are surprised or angry

EX: What the dickensdo you think youre doing?

Ford: Where had you this pretty weathercock?

Mrs. Page: I cannot tellwhat the dickenshis name is my husband had him of. What do you call your knights name, sirrah?

NB:dickens here refers to satan and not Charles Dickens. (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

Wild-Goose Chase-a futile pursuit, a worthless hunt

EX: I wasted all afternoon ona wild-goose chase- it was so annoying.

Mercutio: Nay, if our wits run thewild-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. (Romeo & Juliet)

  1. Holidays in Great Britain
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  4. History of London
  5. Places to Visit in England

  6. London. Places to Visit
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  8. The epic Beowulf
  9. Shakespeare Quotes you can use
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  14. United Kingdom: Geographical Position
  15. The United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland
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  19. Survey of the British Geography and Life
  20. The UK Political system and Geography
  21. The United Kingdom Of Great Britain And Northern Ireland #2

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