William Shakespeare coined hundreds of English phrases and expressions that we still use today in everyday English. In this video we’ll learn some common ones like in stitches and all that glitters.

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Shakespeare phrases we still use today (2) script

To coin a phrase – this means to invent a new expression, especially one that lots of people start to use. William Shakespeare coined hundreds of English words and phrases that we’re still using today, 400 years later. Let’s learn some.
So we’re back with more phrases from Shakespeare that native speakers use today. When we say them, we often don’t know where they come from. They’re just things we say and we’re surprised when we learn they were coined by Shakespeare.
OK. Ready for the first one?
In this phrase a stich is a sharp pain in the side of your body. If you run a lot, you might get a stich. The other way we get a stich is by laughing. So if something has you in stitches it means it makes you laugh so hard that it hurts. We say it when we think something is hilarious – very, very funny.

We went to the movies last night, but it was a waste of time. It was supposed to be a comedy but it didn’t make me laugh. It wasn’t very funny, was it?
I thought it was hilarious. I was in stitches.
I was in stitches.

Next one. We use this phrase to stress that it’s important to do something. For example, if Jay comes into the house with mud on his shoes. I’ll say, take them off, for goodness sake. We generally say ‘for goodness sake’ when we’re annoyed about something. Annoyed means a little angry.

Oh for goodness sake, Jay.
Oh for goodness sake, Jay.

Here’s the next one. Do you know the word glitter? If something glitters it shines brightly with little flashes of light. Gold can glitter and diamonds can glitter and lots of shiny things can glitter. So this phrase means don’t rely on appearances. Just because something looks attractive, it doesn’t mean it’s really attractive. It might appear to be better than it really is.
Perhaps you have an expression like this in your language? Tell us in the comments if you do. And let’s see the phrase in action.

We once bought a boat you know.
Yes, we thought it would be fantastic.
Yes. We saw other people with boats having lots of fun.
We thought we’d take vacations sailing and fishing.
And hanging out with friends.
But then we discovered it was a lot of work.
Yes, it was expensive, too.
I’m really glad we sold that boat.
Me too. All that glitters is not gold.
All that glitters is not gold.

OK, the next one.
Shakespeare used this phrase in several plays to describe people whose finances changed – so people who were wealthy and had money in the past, but then things changed and they became poor. Today we use it to describe something that’s in poor condition. For example, Jay and I have a dirty old couch in our living room that’s seen better days. We need a new one.

Are you wearing that jacket again?
You need to buy a new one.
But I love this jacket.
But it’s old and dirty.
I’ve had it ten years.
Exactly. It’s seen better days.
It’s seen better days.

I think this next one is a lovely expression. A wink is when you shut one eye quickly – like this. These days we say I haven’t slept a wink, or I didn’t get a wink of sleep and it means we haven’t slept at all. Perhaps because we were too excited or it was too noisy, but it means no sleep at all.

Have some coffee.
We’re looking after our grandson this week.
He’s lovely. He’s only six months old.
He never sleeps. He keeps us up all night.
He’s just a baby.
We haven’t slept a wink all week.
We haven’t slept a wink all week.

OK, the next one’s interesting. This expression is the only place you’ll see the word ‘bated’. So you don’t need to learn the word. You just need to know the phrase.
If you wait for something with bated breath, it’s like you hold your breath, because you’re very anxious or excited about it. For example, if you’re waiting for your exam results to come out and you don’t know if you’ve passed, you might wait with bated breath.

I had a job interview last week.
They’re going to call him today and tell him if he’s got it.
I really want this job.
He’s very nervous and excited.
We’re waiting with bated breath. (Phone rings) Maybe it’s them … Oh, hi Mom.
We’re waiting with bated breath.

Let’s have one more. Back in Shakespeare’s time, there was a phrase ‘to edge the teeth’ and it described the sharp feeling you get if you taste a lemon or something very acidic. We don’t say that now, but we do use this expression. It describes a really nasty taste or sound – something that makes you feel uncomfortable.

I hate the sound of the drill at the dentist’s. It sets my teeth on edge.
I hate the sound of the drill at the dentist’s. It sets my teeth on edge.

Are there any tastes or sounds that set your teeth on edge? Let us know in the comments. And please tell us if you enjoyed these phrases from Shakespeare and if you’d like more.
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Bye now and see you next Friday.



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