William ShakespeareShakespeare is considered the greatest writer in the English language, having penned plays that are still being performed some 400 years after his death.

While some of his plays can be difficult to follow, many lines have found their way into general usage. If you have ever worried about the green-eyed monster, being eaten out of house and home or been led on a wild goose chase then you have Shakespeare to thank for the phrase. Here are a few of my favourites:

Wild Goose Chase

If you have ever been sent to look for something that is impossible to find and doesn’t even exist, then you have been sent on a wild goose chase.

“We went on a wild goose chase to find the building; we then found out that it was in another part of the city.”

Good riddance

This is a rude expression so be careful using it. It means that you are happy that somebody has departed.

“Our Chief Executive was an absolute disaster. Good riddance to him.”

The world is one’s oyster

This line from The Merry Wives of Windsor suggests that if the world is your oyster then you can do anything that you put your mind to.

“Now that he’s got a training contract with a magic circle law firm, the world is his oyster.”

Full circle

If something comes full circle then it returns to where it came from via several twists and turns.

“If you think about it, her career has come full circle as she started out at Glaxo and now she’s back there – albeit in a higher position.”

In a pickle

This expression is found in The Tempest and Shakespeare adapted it from an existing expression. If you are in a pickle, you find yourself in a difficult situation that may be difficult to remove yourself from.

“She found herself in a bit of a pickle when she realised that she had two cases being heard in different courts at the same time.”


If you enjoyed this article and want to read a little more about Shakespeare and how he used Ghosts as key elements in many of his famous stories please see – A concise History of Ghosts and Famous Accounts in Literature.

This article is a re-post and was originally written by Michael for the Legal English UK website.
Shakespeare and English | Legal English UK Shakespeare is considered the greatest writer in the English language and wrote plays such as Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Othello. These plays are still performed 400 years after his death and have been translated into dozens of languages. www.legalenglish.co.uk