Throughout the wide literary world, William Shakespeare is known as the greatest writer in the English language. Compared to many other well-known writers, Shakespeare’s life is shrouded in mystery. Yet his plays and other works provide a lot of insight into his literary creative talent. Little is known about his childhood, but much can be inferred from his education. Shakespeare attended a grammar school in the late sixteenth century that offered a mandatory classical education. He learned the Latin language and was rigorously tested in written and oral Latin prose and poetry, as well as grammar, rhetoric, logic, astronomy, and arithmetic.
Little information has been found about what he did after grammar school. Instead of attending a university, most biographers believe he started writing plays which were performed at stages in London, as well as taking on small jobs.
Shakespeare penned 37 plays, 154 sonnets and 4 long narrative poems which permanently changed the English language, contributing more to it than any other writer. In all, he created roughly 1,700 new words in most of his works. Also, Shakespeare invented 135 phrases that we use today. Here are 15 of his phrases which most people are familiar with:
“It’s Greek to me” (Julius Caesar, Act I Scene II): This sentence is said when you do not know something.
“Wild Goose Chase” (Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene IV): An unsuccessful search.
“Fair play” (The Tempest, Act V Scene 1) – Follow the rules in competitions or sports.
“Knock, Knock! Who’s there?” (Macbeth, Act II, Scene III) – Shakespeare invented the “knock, knock” joke.
“All that glitters is not gold” (Merchant of Venice, Act I, Scene VII) – Something that looks good, turns out not to be that great.
“Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve” (Othello, Act I, Scene I) – To be open and honest about how you feel.
“Forever and a Day” (As You Like It, Act IV, Scene I) – A very, long period of time.
“Break the ice” (The Taming of the Shrew. Act I Scene II) – When two people meet, they ask each other polite questions.
“Seen Better Days” (As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII) – An item that’s not in good condition.
“Lie Low” (Much To Do About Nothing, Act V, Scene I) – Remain hidden.
“A laughing-stock” (The Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III, Scene I) – A person who is considered a joke by many people.
“Love is blind” (“The Merchant of Venice”, Act II, Scene VI) – An expression meaning to love a person who isn’t physically attractive.
“Too much of a good thing” (“As You Like It” Act III, Scene V) – “Too much of a good thing” is not necessarily good for you.
“In a pickle” (“The Tempest” Act V, Scene I) – To be in trouble or a difficult situation.
“Good Riddance” (“Troilus and Cressida” Act II, Scene I) – An expression indicating welcome relief from someone or something undesirable or unwanted.
William Shakespeare is certifiably known as the father of the modern English language. No other English writer has contributed more to phrases and words than him. Throughout his plays, sonnets, and poetry, Shakespeare broke new ground by creating new words and expressions, which standardized our mother tongue by embedding themselves in our language. After 400 years, today’s avid readers can clearly recognize many of the words and expressions commonly used in today’s speech.