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    17 Iconic Quotes And Phrases That You May Or May Not Know Are From Shakespeare

    ~Nothing is new under the sun~.

    I would consider myself a mid-size Shakespeare fan — I've read a lot of his works, both the popular (like Romeo & Juliet) and the hidden gems (The Merchant of Venice).


    HOWEVER, even as a casual connoisseur of the Bard, I'm still shocked by how many phrases from Shakespeare are still used in everyday vernacular.

    David talking about this being a teachable moment for the family

    So, here are some common, everyday phrases that you may or may not know hail from Shakespeare:

    1. "Something wicked this way comes."

    The book cover of Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
    Simon & Schuster

    Full quote: "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!" 

    Where it's from: Macbeth 

    What it means now: I kinda see it as, like, a premonition of bad things on the horizon.

    Fun fact: This quote inspired the title of my second favorite Ray Bradbury novel! Def a good read. 

    2. "All the world's a stage."

    A red curtain on a theater

    Full  quote: "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players..." 

    Where it's from: As You Like It

    What it means now: This is actually the first line in a monologue about the life stages of man — from infancy to death — but in common times, it's used as an allegory for the whole world being a stage and human beings are merely actors on said stage and our lives are the play. Quite poetic if you think about it. 

    3. "Method to my madness."


    Full quote: "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't. Will you walk out of the air, my lord?" 

    Where it's from: Hamlet

    What it means now: Basically, trust the process! Just because the means seem a tad confusing doesn't mean the ends won't be achieved!

    Fun fact: "Method to the Madness" is the name of a rockin' Wombats song.  

    4. "Green-eyed monster."

    Walt Disney Studios

    Full quote: "Oh, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on."

    Where it's from: Othello

    What it means now: A common descriptor of someone who's hella jealous.

    Fun fact: Scar from The Lion King, Randall from Monster's Inc., and Prince Hans from Frozen all have green eyes because their characters are quite jealous. 

    5. "Wear your heart on your sleeve."

    Nate and Blair discussing the heart pendant she sewed on the inside of his sweater
    The CW

    Full quote: "For when my outward action doth demonstrate, the native act and figure of my heart, in compliment extern, 'tis not long after, but I will wear my heart upon my sleeve, for daws to peck at..." 

    Where it's from: Othello

    What it means now: It's when someone is emotional and their expression is written all over their face. 

    Fun fact: Remember when Nate revealed the gold heart pendant sewn into his sleeve to Blair? Yeah, it was in reference to this. 

    6. "Full circle."


    Full quote: "Thou hast spoken right, 'tis true; The wheel has come full circle: I am here,"

    Where it's from: King Lear

    What it means now: When the events of life all come together in, like, a neat bow.

    7. "All that glitters isn't gold."

    Title card for All That Glitters from Spongebob Squarepants

    Full quote: "All that glisters is not gold; Often have you heard that told: Many a man his life hath sold, But my outside to behold: Gilded tombs do worms enfold," 

    Where it's from: The Merchant of Venice

    What it means now: Just because something is pretty on the outside doesn't mean it's worth it on the inside.

    Fun fact: J. R. R. Tolkien used this line as the inspiration for his poem that appears in The Fellowship of the Ring.

    8. "Heavy hangs the head that wears a crown."

    King Henry IV sitting on the throne while wearing his crown

    Full quote: "Deny it to a king? Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."

    Where it's from: Henry IV

    What it means now: Basically, with great power comes great responsibility.

    9. "The sound and the fury."

    The book cover for The Sound and The Fury by William Faulkner
    Jonathan Cape and Harrison Smith

    Full quote: "Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage; And then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." 

    Where it's from: Macbeth

    What it means now: It basically means that sometimes talk, talk, talk can just be an annoying sound. 

    Fun fact: This quote inspired the title of the famous William Faulkner novel. 

    10. "Brave new world."

    The book cover for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    Chatto & Windus

    Full quote: "O wonder! How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world, that has such people in't." 

    Where it's from: The Tempest 

    What it means now: It's a tad ironic, but the gist of it is that just because something is new to you does not mean it's well intentioned. 

    Fun fact: This quote inspired the title of the famous Aldous Huxley novel. 

    11. "Kill them with kindness."

    Interscope Records

    Full quote: “This is a way to kill a wife with kindness, and thus I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humor.”

    Where it's from: The Taming of the Shrew

    What it means now: Basically, the best way to take someone down is to be so kind to them that they will have no choice but to succumb to you.

    Fun fact: This quote inspired many a song, including the bop of the same name by Selena Gomez. 

    12. "Cruel to be kind."


    Full quote: "I will bestow him, and will answer well the death I gave him. So, again, goodnight. I must be cruel, only to be kind: Thus bad beginnings and worse remains behind." 

    Where it's from: Hamlet

    What it means now: Sometimes, you have to hurt the one you love in order to do right by them in the end. 

    Fun fact: This quote inspired the title of a song by Nick Lowe — which has been covered by many artists including Letters to Cleo, who featured their cover in 10 Things I Hate About You.

    13. "Heart of gold."


    Full quote: "The king's bawcock, and a heart of gold, a lad of life, an imp of fame, of parents good, of first most valiant." 

    Where it's from: Henry V

    What it means now: When someone is pure and decent to their core. 

    Fun fact: This phrase inspired the archetype "hooker with a heart of gold." Some of those characters include Santine from Moulin Rouge, Aldonza from Man of La Mancha, and my personal fave, Vivian from Pretty Woman!

    14. "Give the devil his due."


    Full quote: "The devil shall have his bargain, for he was never yet a breaker of proverbs. He will give the devil his due."

    Where it's from: Henry IV

    What it means now: Listen, people can be trash, but you also have to give credit where credit is due. 

    15. "Too much of a good thing."


    Full quote: "When, then, can one desire too much of a good thing?" 

    Where it's from: As You Like It

    What it means now: Be wary of an abundance of something you like, because it could very easily become something you no longer like. 

    Fun fact: Even though this is a Shakespeare quote, people attribute it to Mark Twain, who penned the also famous quote, "Too much of anything is bad, but too much whiskey is barely enough." 

    16. "It's all Greek to me."

    Commodus weilding a sword
    DreamWorks Pictures

    Full quote: "Nay, an I tell you that, I'll ne'er look you i' the face again: but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me." 

    Where it's from: Julius Caesar

    What it means now: When someone says something that you don't understand/have no way of understanding.

    17. Last, but not least, "the fault in our stars."

    20th Century Fox

    Full quote: "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings." 

    Where it's from: Julius Caesar 

    What it means now: If something is in the stars, it's the belief that things are ~pre-destined~, so if things are perchance going wrong for someone, or a group of someones, then that's because it was destined to be that way. 

    Fun fact: This quote was the inspiration behind the heartbreaking YA novel of the same name by John Green. 

    Did we miss an iconic phrase/quote from Shakespeare? If so, let us know in the comments below.

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