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William Shakespeare - Words of Wisdom

Updated on August 16, 2013
First Folio - the works of William Shakespeare published in 1623.
First Folio - the works of William Shakespeare published in 1623. | Source

Shakespeare's Quotes

Having recently written an article on the true author of Shakespeare's works - William Shakespeare and only William Shakespeare, I couldn't help to remember some of the famous words from his writings. He has coined a few phrases that up to today still remain in our vocabulary and lexicon. What a genius!

He had a great understanding of the different aspects of our lives and the motivations behind them: love, hate, jealousy, betrayal, relationships, power, prejudice, murder, marriage, family, intrigue, disguise, thievery, society, comedy, tragedy, and history. Shakespeare understood it all and wrote about it with cleverness and wit. That is why his plays and sonnets are so universal and timeless and have been published in so many different languages. His plays can be staged in any time period: antiquity, past or present, and have been done so over the years by many.

Below are a list of some of his famous words or quotes from his various plays and sonnets. They are in no particular order and the particular work from which they are taken is not identified. These words stand alone, and even though taken out of context, can add richness, meaning and lessons to our individual lives. This is why I call Shakespeare a genius. They have been chosen randomly and come from the web-site: Some of the works from which these are taken, you will be able to guess and identify. I believe no explanation is necessary to their meaning as they can have a different meaning to each individual person. If your decade of age happens to be the 20's, read these again when you are in your 50's and see if the meanings have changed for you. They have for me. If you are in your 50's decade, read this again when you are in your 80's or 90's and see what the meaning is to you then.

All the words below have been authored by William Shakespeare and come from his works or he has incorporated the sayings of his day into his own words and included them in his works:

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.

There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief.

This above all, to thine own self be true.

What's done can't be undone.

Let every eye negotiate for itself and trust no agent.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

I say there is no darkness but ignorance.

Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage.

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise fool knows himself to be a fool.

Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.

Boldness be my friend.

Hell is empty and all the devils are here.

Give thy thoughts no tongue.

For my part, it was Greek to me.

But men are men, the best sometimes forget.

Go to your bosom; Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

I am not bound to please thee with my answer.

Everyone ought to bear patiently the results of his own conduct.

Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valient never taste of death but once.

Like as the waves make towards the pebb'd shore, so do our minutes, hasten to their end.

Love sought is good but given unsought, is better.

Neither a borrower or a lender be.

The course of true love never did run smooth.

Oh what fools these mortals be.

Sweet mercy is nobility's true badge.

'Tis one thing to be tempted, another thing to fall.

We know what we are, but know not what we may be.

The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

A peace is of a nature of a conquest; for then both parties nobly are subdued, and neither party a loser.

But, O, how bitter a thing is to look into happiness through another man's eyes.

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

He is winding the watch of his wit; by and by it will strike.

How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal by by degrees.

How far the little candle throws its beam! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.

Give every man thy ear, but few they voice.

Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

I have learned much from Shakespeare's words and the reading of his works. I hope you have as well. Some of his words have become the sayings of our day and we have incorporated them in our vocabulary and lexicon as his words are timeless and universal.


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  • profile image


    6 years ago

    I love this. I think it is amazing how Shakespeare managed to simultaneously write interesting and humorous plays and incorporate all these great one-liners.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    6 years ago from Taos, NM

    orock: Thank you so much for reading and for your comments. Most appreciated!

  • profile image

    orock thomas 

    6 years ago

    Great inpirational words from Shakespear.I like reading his wrods of wisdom so mucH!!

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    I love everything Shakespeare! This was fun to write - I know some of his quotes from teaching some of his plays to my students. I think Shakespeare was a real observer of people and human behavior. He seems to have understood the psychology behind human beings and what they do and why they do it. He seems to have understood what motivated humans to do certain things and be the way they are. I think he was almost a psychologist as well as a writer. His plays are amazing - funny, comical, sad, happy, tragic - just every emotion comes through in his plays. I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub and thanks so much for stopping by to read this for your comments!

  • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

    Pamela Dapples 

    7 years ago from Just Arizona Now

    I have a world of Shakespeare yet to read -- and some might have to wait to be read after this mortal life -- but I sure do stand in awe of him. I wonder how he got so smart.

    Wonderful hub how you chose so many good lines of his. Voting up and awesome.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    Thank's for stopping by again! I have always enjoyed reading and teaching The Bard-his works are so timeless. Thanks so much for your comments!

  • vox vocis profile image


    7 years ago

    Yes, I'm familiar with most of these quotes :) Very true - each time I read one of Shakespeare's plays, I find interesting thoughts again, too!

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    vox vocis: Good for you! You must recognize some or all of these quotes then. Sounds like an interesting exam. It has been years since I've been in college, yet I go back and read Shakespeare's plays from time to time. Each time I read one, it is illuminating and interesting as the first time I read it. Glad you enjoyed this hub.

  • vox vocis profile image


    7 years ago

    We had to memorize about 100 quotes (and/or verses) for our written exam on Shakespeare when I was at university. It wasn't an easy job, but it was interesting. I've been planning to read his plays again because I forgot quite a lot since then :(

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    Jools99: Thank you for stopping by and reading. Yes, I have read a lot of Shakespeare and taught a lot of Shakespeare! LOL I was an English teacher as well as a Spanish teacher. Shakespeare was always a favorite of mine to teach. His plays are so timeless. I am so glad you have enjoyed this piece.

  • Jools99 profile image

    Jools Hogg 

    7 years ago from North-East UK

    Suzette, really enjoyed this interesting hub. The Stephen Fry programme mentioned by Nell was very good. It should appear on You Tube soon enough and David Tennant is right, in the English language, and maybe more so in the UK we use a lot of his lines as cliches.

    You must have done a lot of reading and research for this article, great job.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    Thank you; I try. I believe there is a Shakespeare play out there for everyone. You just have to keep reading. I'm glad you like the Moor of Venice. Othello is one of my favorites!

  • WD Curry 111 profile image

    WD Curry 111 

    7 years ago from Space Coast

    Well, you never had me in class. I was talking college. You do now and I am enjoying the fresh approach. I loved the Moor of Venice from day one. I didn't get bogged down by the cumbersome language like I did in some of the other works.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    Don't apologize. Shakespeare isn't for everyone. And, Shakespeare wrote for adults, not high schoolers. Yes, I tried to break it down for my students also, and when I did, they loved Shakespeare. He can be so funny. I taught a Midsummer Night's Dream to eighth graders and we had so much fun with it. I had all kinds of interactive activities to get them over their fear of Shakespeare. We acted out the play instead of just reading it in class, and my students had me in stitches. A good teacher will show how fun Shakespeare is and have fun with the plays and sonnets.

    Thank you so much for reading and for your comments. I don't think you are remedial!

  • WD Curry 111 profile image

    WD Curry 111 

    7 years ago from Space Coast

    I must admit that I struggled with Shakespeare in school. Maybe I was lazy. I enjoyed it more when the professor broke down the jokes or whatever. I guess you have to have an amazing vocabulary and feel for classic English. Thanks for helping the remedial along with this elegant reminder.

  • collegatariat profile image


    7 years ago

    Being in the 20s decade you mention, I'm going to have to bookmark this on for a few years from now. Thanks for an enjoyable collection of some of Shakespeare's best words. I appreciate the variation and thoroughness of it.

  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 

    7 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    Excellent list of wise words from Mr Shakespeare. t is hard to choose a favorite because the very next one is so perfect. Thanks for a great read!

  • FloraBreenRobison profile image


    7 years ago

    I love this poem! I'm a big fan of Shakespeare both as a reader and as an audience member.

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    Hi Nell: Thanks for reading and your comments are so interesting. I would love to see that program. I wonder if it will ever air on PBS. I am always surprised at how many of our sayings can be traced back to Shakespeare's plays. He really understood the vernacular and the common man.

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    7 years ago from England

    Hi, this is very well timed, I was watching a tv program last night with Steven Fry, an English actor, writer and presenter, and he is doing a program about Words and how they developed. He was interviewing David Tennant, (Last Dr, Who) who had recently done Hamlet. And they were talking about the sayings that had been passed down to us, and David mentioned the fact that when he does a Shakespear play he feels that every line is a cliche'! purely because we use them so much these days that everybody will know them, and its so true, especially 'to be or not to be' thanks for the list, I was wondering if David was going to mention any more, as I was intrigued! rated up, and very helpful! cheers nell

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    I love Shakespeare,too. Thank you for reading and your kind comments.

  • LisaKoski profile image


    7 years ago from WA

    I love shakespeare. Great hub!

  • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

    Suzette Walker 

    7 years ago from Taos, NM

    I am too. Thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting.

  • vansh121 profile image


    7 years ago from India

    I am really fond of Shakespeare.


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