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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Rachel - Silversurfers Assistant Editor

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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18th Aug 2017
Thanks for voting!
I used to get Shakespeare forced down my throat at school and it was lost on me but a few years ago I knew a dresser at theatre and had free tickets so learned to accept him.

Am still not a lover but sometimes it can sound interesting ...
24th Apr 2017
Thanks for voting!
I enjoy well known poetry and prose
23rd Apr 2017
Thanks for voting!
William Shakespeare was never part of my education at school and I am not a fan of any of his works, but I do admire him for his skills as a wordsmith. If he were around today, I would hope he would be maddened, as a I am, by the overuse of the word 'like'. People seem totally unable to speak these days without using this word over and over and over again, just in one sentence. If there was a list of the most popular words in use in our country, the word 'like' would be at the top of it. It litters everyday conversations, completely unnecessarily, and the youth of today appear to be the most proficient with its use.
My rant is like now over like.
23rd Apr 2019
Thanks for voting!
I agree with you Kes, I wish they'd move on to something else now, all the 'likes' put me off listening to their conversation.....
23rd Apr 2017
Thanks for voting!
Thank you, very interesting.

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