If we asked you to name a famous author, there’s a high chance William Shakespeare will come into your mind before anyone else – because let’s be honest; he is an absolute legend (you know it’s true). Over the course of his career, William Shakespeare brought us some of the most iconic plays, poems, and speeches in history. Yep, he’s the guy in the neck ruff that brought us the likes of Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet and more, and his works are still being studied and adapted today. However, Shakespeare was so much more than a playwright. In fact, Shakespeare was a prolific Neologist and made up numerous words and phrases we still use in real life today.
‘Vanish into thin air’ – Othello
Sometimes, we really wish our ex-boyfriends would vanish into thin air – but alas, it has yet to happen. But we can still hope. Shakespeare first coined this phrase and included it in his popular play, Othello, in Act 3, Scene 1 and later used it in The Tempest. In Othello, the character of The Clown tells the musicians to ‘vanish into thin air’ to send them away from the scene. Nowadays, it has become a common phrase in the English language. Thanks, Billy!
‘Swagger’ – A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Let’s be honest; we have so much swagger it’s totally unquantified (see, so much swagger). Although this phrase may seem like a pretty modern phrase coined by Yeezus of P. Diddy, it’s roots actually fall in the hands of William Shakespeare. Yep, this cool dude first wrote of the ‘swaggering’ men in Mistress Quickly’s tavern in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and later used the phrase in Henry IV: Part 2, and even in King Lear. It has now been adopted by rappers and other so-called magicians, such as Soulja Boy (oooh, burn).
‘There’s a method to my madness’ – Hamlet
Yep, we say this one a lot. Sure, our plans may seem extravagant, but there is a method to our madness – most of the time! This phrase first appeared in Hamlet, during Act 2, Scene 2 by Polonius, who was basically trying to brown nose Hamlet and prove that he wasn’t completely loopy. In this scene, he was suggesting that there was reason and practicality beneath Hamlet’s seemingly crazy ideas. Today, it is still a common phrase and was made even more famous by the Bee Gees!
‘The green-eyed monster’ – Othello
In this day and age, we love to find cool ways of saying what we mean WITHOUT actively saying what we mean (why do we make it so complicated for ourselves?), so we often use the phrase ‘green-eyes monster’ when we’re talking about jealousy. This phrase was first invented by Shakespeare and appeared in Act 3, Scene 3 of Othello. He was kinda talking about cats at the time (as you do) but it has since strayed away from the feline definition.
‘Knock knock! Who’s there?’ – Macbeth
Okay, so this one is a little bit of a cheat- but we just had to include it! Although Shakespeare did use this phrase in Act 2, Scene 3 of Macbeth, there is no direct evidence to suggest that he was linked to the Knock Knock jokes we all know and love today. However, there is evidence to suggest that Shakespeare was one of the first writers to coin the phrase in itself. Without Shakespeare, we could have been telling Tap Tap jokes instead….
So next time you find yourself saying any of these phrases, think back to ol’ Willy Shakespeare, and thank him for his impressive brain!