Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Shakespeaere's Contribution to the English Language

While William Shakespeare died 388 years ago this week, the English playwright and poet lives on not only through his writings, but through the words and sayings attributed to him that still color the English language today. So if the "world is your oyster", your super "fashionable" and to boot " green with jealousy," you can thank Shakespeare, who likely coined the terms.

Here's an example of how many phrases in the English language that are now common place take their origin from Shakespeare's plays.

From Hamlet:
Polonius:(aside) Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.

The colloquial version is 'there's method in his madness'.

Reason behind apparent folly or disorder.


This line derives from Shakespeare's Hamlet Act 2, scene 2, 193–206:

What is the matter, my lord?

Between who?

I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

Slanders,sir;for the satirical rogue says here that old men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams; all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down, for yourself, sir, shall grow old as I am,if like a crab you could go backward.

[Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.


Polonius sees that Hamlet indeed has gone "mad" over Ophelia and has recognizable Elizebethan disease of love-melancholy. He also recognizes his speech has some order and fluidity,some "method" to his madness.

More Interesting Shakespeare Sites:
Short History of the English Language

Shakespeare Lexicon and Dictionary

Words Coined by Shakespeare are now Common Currency

Do you really think you know Shakespeare?
Take this Quiz and find out!

More Tales and Adventures in Sabrina's London Diaries


Related Posts with Thumbnails