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Words and phrases coined by William Shakespeare

English poet, playwright and actor William Shakespeare is considered the greatest writer in the English language.

His plays, sonnets and long narrative poems have shaped modern storytelling and more than 450 years later his plays are still performed more often than works from any other playwright.

Works like Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth and Hamlet are well known – but what many people don’t necessarily realise is that Shakespeare was an imaginative inventor of words.

He’s credited with inventing over 1700 in his lifetime, many we still regularly use today.

Take a look at our list of some of the most interesting and popular words and phrases coined by Shakespeare, and the works they came from.


From Love’s Labours Lost, Act I, Scene i



From Timon Of Athens, Act V, Scene i.



From As You Like It, At II, Scene Vii.



From Troilus And Cressida, Act III, Scene iii.



From A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene i.



From Much Ado About Nothing, Act II, Scene i.



From King Henry VI, Part II, Act II, Scene i.



From A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, Scene ii.



From Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene iv.


As good luck would have it

From The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III, Scene v.


The be-all and end-all

From Macbeth, Act I, Scene vii.


Devil incarnate

From Titus Andronicus, Act V, Scene i.  


For goodness’ sake

From Henry VIII, Act I, Scene i.


Heart of gold

From Henry V, Act 4, Scene i.


Love is blind

From the Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene vi.  


Wild goose chase

From Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene iv.


A Sorry Sight

From Macbeth, Act 2, Scene ii.


Good riddance

From The Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene vii.


What’s done is done

From Macbeth , Act 3, Scene ii.


There’s method in my madness

From Hamlet, Act 2, Scene ii.  


All of a sudden

From The Taming of the Shrew, Act 1, Scene i.



Are you a fan of William Shakespeare? Share your thoughts and memories in the comments below!

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Hello there! I’m Rachel and I’m the Assistant Editor for Silversurfers. I work behind the scenes to bring interesting, informative and entertaining subject matter to the Silversurfers community. I hope you enjoy the features we have shared with you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts with us, we love to hear from you!

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