We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


William Shakespeare's 450th birthday: 50 everyday phrases that came from the Bard

From 'in a pickle' to 'good riddance' the Bard's legacy is still very much present

Happy 450th birthday William Shakespeare. Your plays are still the pinnacle, your poetry among the finest and many phrases you coined are still in wide usage.

Sixth formers who loathe the name Hamlet, apologies, but there is just no escaping the Bard. His influence on the English language has stood the test of time thus far, with little sign of relenting.

Echelons of British culture aside, even those who "don't do Shakespeare" speak his words in their daily lives. Most of us will have quoted the playwright thousands of times without knowing it.

Ever been "in a pickle" or had "too much of a good thing"? Perhaps friends have "eaten (you) out of house and home" or had you "in stitches" over a joke.

These are just a handful of well-used sayings that come courtesy of Shakespeare (see below for more).

It is often not clear whether a word or phrase was already in existence in Shakespeare's lifetime or if he invented it. Regardless, his plays often provide us with the earliest use of many.

More words and phrases coined by the Bard

- "For goodness sake" - Henry VIII

- "Neither here not there" - Othello

- "Mum's the word" - Henry VI, Part II

- "Eaten out of house and home" - Henry IV, Part II

- "Rant" - Hamlet

- "Knock knock! Who's there?" - Macbeth

- "All's well that ends well" - All's Well That Ends Well

- "With bated breath" - The Merchant of Venice

- "A wild goose chase" - Romeo and Juliet

- "Assassination" - Macbeth

- "Too much of a good thing" - As You Like It

- "A heart of gold" - Henry V

- "Such stuff as dreams are made on" - The Tempest

- "Fashionable" - Troilus and Cressida

- "What the dickens" - The Merry Wives of Windsor

- "Puking" - As You Like It

- "Lie low" - Much Ado About Nothing

- "Dead as a doornail" - Henry VI, Part II

- "Not slept one wink" -


- "Foregone conclusion" - Othello

- "The world's mine oyster" - The Merry Wives of Windsor

- "Obscene" - Love's Labour's Lost

- "Bedazzled" - The Taming of the Shrew

- "In stitches" - Twelfth Night

- "Addiction" - Othello

- "Naked truth" - Love's Labour's Lost

- "Faint-hearted" - Henry VI, Part I

- "Send him packing" - Henry IV

- "Vanish into thin air" - Othello

- "Swagger" - Henry V

- "Own flesh and blood" - Hamlet

- "Truth will out" - The Merchant of Venice

- "Zany" - Love's Labour's Lost

- "Give the devil his due" - Henry IV, Part I

- "There's method in my madness" - Hamlet

- "Salad days" - Antony and Cleopatra

- "Wear your heart on your sleeve" - Othello

- "Spotless reputation" - Richard II

- "Full circle" - King Lear

- "There's the rub" - Hamlet

- "All of a sudden" - The Taming of the Shrew

- "Come what, come may" - Macbeth