April 23rd, 2016 is William Shakespeare's 400th death day (It's also his 452nd birthday...but that's less of a round number than "400"...) So I thought I'd remember the Bard by teaching you how the guy that made your high school English classes the bane of your existence is actually responsible for how we speak today!

Along with coining phrases that have become famously known from his works ("Et tu, Brute?", "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?", "To be or not to be") we actually use a lot of phrases today that you might not realize came from Ol' Bill's works.


Way back in Elizabethan times there weren't any dictionaries or official spellings of any words (including your own name!) because literacy rates were so low. If you could read or write, everything was spelled phonetically (imagine spelling things phonetically from an English accent...yeesh...). We know him by "Shakespeare" today, but that bard actually spelled his name many different ways, including 'Shaksper' and 'Shakspere'. Someone in the 17th century even tried to forge the bards signature and spelled his last name "Shubstre"...I'm not kidding.

Yeah, have fun tracing any of your family's lineage in England before the 1700s. Super fun. (It is not and I would not recommend that headache to anyone.)


Any-who, even though Shakespeare is credited with "inventing" over 1700 words that we still use today, some of them weren't actually invented by him and are instead just first recorded in his works. Some words were commonly used at the time, but were first put on paper in his plays and sonnets. BUT, not to discredit the Bard, he DID invented a LOT of words and phrases not commonly used at the time, but are now common in the 21st century because of him.

Here are some words and phrases that we use today that were invented by William Shakespeare:

All that glisters is not gold ("glisters" of course has been changed to "glitters")
As good luck would have it (shortened now to "As luck would have it")
Break the ice
Catch cold
Come what come may (Now simplified to "Come what may")
Dead as a doornail
Devil incarnate
Every dog will have its day
Forever and a day
For goodness' sake
Full circle
The game is afoot
Give the devil his due
Good riddance (Green Day has Shakey to thank for that title!)
Heart of gold
Jaded (Looks like Green Day needs to thank Bill TWICE...)
Jealousy is the green-eyed monster
It was Greek to me
Heart of gold
In a pickle
Kill with kindness
Knock, knock, who's there? (Yeah. You have Shakespeare to thank for all those awful knock, knock jokes you heard as a kid.)
Love is blind
Off with his head (Shakespeare said it first, not the Queen of Hearts)
Seen better days
Send packing
Shooting star
Skim milk
Too much of a good thing
Wear my heart upon my sleeve
What's done is done
Wild goose chase
You've got to be cruel to be kind
You can't have too much of a good thing


Essentially, none of us have probably gone a whole day without uttering a word that was given to us by Shakespeare. I can't even get through a single six-pack of GBF rock without running into one of his words in a band name, song title, or lyric!

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