Did you know that you probably use words and phrases invented by Shakespeare every day?

For instance, you're referencing The Tempest whenever you comment on 'fair play', while you can thank A Midsummer Night's Dream next time you're feeling 'fancy free'. Here are some other famous examples:

'What the dickens' - nothing to do with Victorian author Charles Dickens. The phrase is first found in The Merry Wives of Windsor and uses 'dickens' as a more polite version of 'devil'.

'In stitches' - if you're laughing so hard it hurts, you may find yourself using this phrase from Twelfth Night. Despite this appearance in 1602, the idea of being in stitches has only really become popular in the last century.

'Keep your distance' - first written by Shakespeare in All's Well That Ends Well, as a way of reminding people to know their place in society and not to get too close to their social betters. Now we use it more generally to describe staying aloof and separate from other people.

'Night owl' - this used to just be another way to refer to owls, but Shakespeare can be credited with the first written use of it in relation to people who prefer to be active at night, from his poem The Rape of Lucrece

'Off with his head' - often associated with Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, this phrase can be found as far back as 1591 in Henry VI Part III, spoken by Queen Margaret, and is repeated in Richard III.

Take a look through this gallery to find out more:

You are in: About us