Shakespeare and the English Language (Or How Shakespeare Helps You Talk)

“She’s the end-all, be-all of the sport.”

“You know, as luck would have it…”

“Oh, I’m waiting with bated breath.”

These and many other phrases are critical to the flow of our language. They provide humor and irony to our conversations. They bail us out when our vocabulary is failing to come up with that perfect word.

But how did they come about? How did entire cultures come to accept, understand and use certain phrases in everyday conversation? Well, there are at least 45—including the three above—we can trace back to one person: William Shakespeare.

Much like your one friend who quotes lines from the newest hit movie at every possible opportunity, people seeing Shakespeare’s plays began quoting and using his lines in everyday conversation. At some point in the past 400 years, using Shakespeare’s phrases became so common, people forgot they were quoting someone. Now in the 21st century, we use Shakespeare’s lines without knowing or even considering their origin.

Within the article below, I found more than a few of Shakespeare’s lines I use daily. These phrases are often as indispensable to my conversations as much of my vocabulary. This means I owe a part of my ability to communicate to William Shakespeare. One writer’s work was so profound and relatable it was incorporated into the very language he wrote in. That’s some #writergoals material.

So the next time you catch yourself using one these phrases, remember Shakespeare and the malleability of language. And if this post has you curious about where other common phrases originated, you’ll have to direct your questions to

Because it’s all Greek to me.


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Hayden Harris
Social Media/Digital Marketing Intern at Blohm Creative Partners