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Shakespeare's 39 Sayings Used Today?

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Firpo Files Flashpoint
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Contributed

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April 25, 2015

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Of the myriad sayings of Shakespeare (1564-1616) as made popular from his plays, a few have echoed down to our day, having survived beyond the stage. These timeless words still influence pop culture, on a daily basis, in that country ‘across the pond' from England, the United States of America. Can you count the ways beyond the stage?

 

1. "A sorry sight."

2. "Baited breath."

3. "Be all/end all."

4. "Brave new world."

5. "Break the ice."

6. "Breathed his last breath."

7. "Come what may."

8. "Dead as a doornail."

9. "Faint hearted."

10. "Fair play/foul play."

11. "Fight fire with fire."

12. "For goodness' sake."

13. "Full circle."

14. "Good riddance."

15. "Green eyed monster."

16. "Heart of gold."

17. "Heart of hearts."

18. "In a pickle."

19. "Knock, knock! Who's there?"

20. "Laughing stock."

21. "Lie low."

22. "Love is blind."

23. "Makes your hair stand on end."

24. "Naked truth."

25. "Not slept one wink."

26. "Off with his head."

27. "Out of the jaws of death."

28. "Seen better days."

29. "Send him packing."

30. "Set your teeth on edge."

31. "So-so."

32. "The game is up."

33. "The world is my oyster."

34. "Too much of a good thing."

35. "Vanish into thin air."

36. "Wear your heart on your sleeve."

37. "What's done is done."

38. "Wild goose chase."

39. "Cleanliness is next to godliness"?

 

Wait! Not so fast with 39. Isn't the expression "Cleanliness is next to godliness" found in the Bible? No, it isn't. Shakespeare didn't say it? No, he didn't.

 

In a written 1778 sermon he delivered, John Wesley (1703-1791) wrote, "Slovenliness is no part of religion. ‘Cleanliness is indeed next to Godliness.'" But, he didn't come up with the adage either (which is why he put it in quotes).

 

So, where did it come from?

 

Actually, the expression "Cleanliness is next to godliness" is an ancient saying that predates Shakespeare (who is alleged to have been one of the translators of the King James Bible) by hundreds of years.

 

And although the saying is not found in the Bible, this archaic proverb was first discovered in ancient Hebrew (the original language of the "Old Testament" portion of the Bible, along with Aramaic) and Babylonian tracts. It first made its way into English, in modified form, among the writings of philosopher and scientist, Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

 

So, now you know. Go and grow! (Okay, so I'm no Shakespeare. Whatever.)