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Shakespeare dictionary

Shakespeare dictionary

Shakespeare dictionary
Shakespeare’s aphoristic short dictionary

Shakespeare dictionary of aphoristic short quotes and literary definitions (part 1), from Absence to Fathers by English-Culture and Carl William Brown.

All men who repeat a line from Shakespeare are William Shakespeare.
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

I consider the genius, in any form, as an effort of nature to produce, among great sacrifices, a better human prototype, more successful, more worthy of life than usual.
Hermann Hesse

Books are Lighthouses erected in the sea of time. Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Alex St. Clair

Theoretically speaking a good reader should also be a good learner, whatever the century and the place!
Carl William Brown

He is of no age, nor any religion or party or profession. His works come out of the unfathomable depths of his mind.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Profonda magia è sempre trar il contrario dopo aver trovato il punto de l’unione.
Giordano Bruno

William Shakespeare short aphoristic dictionary (part 2) by Carl William Brown


This great gap of time, my Antony is away.

Thy grief is but thy absence for a time.

I shall be loved when I am lacked.

Every wink of an eye some new grace will be born. Our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge.


Good sentences, and well pronounced. They would be better if well followed.

That we would do, We should do when we would.

Action is eloquence.

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces.

We must not stint our necessary actions in the fear to cope malicious censurers.

Talkers are no good doers.

That we would do, we should do when we would.

If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly.

From this moment, the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand.

O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!

What you cannot as you would achieve, you must perforce accomplish as you may.

Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.

Acting and Actors

Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it? Why, every fault’s condemned ere it be done.

Like a dull actor nowI have forgot my part.

The eyes of men, after a well-graced actor leaves the stage, are idly bent on him that enters next, thinking his prattle to be tedious.

And most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, as I foretold you, were all spirits, and are melted into air, into thin air: and, like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, and, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind.


And one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

These scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings, And stand securely on their battlements, As in a theatre, whence they gape and point At your industrious scenes and acts of death.


A wretched soul bruised with adversity, we bid be quiet when we hear it cry; but were we burdened with like weight of pain, as much, or more, we should ourselves complain.

Sweet are the uses of adversity, which like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

Who would bear the whips and scorns of time, th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes.

Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.

Misery acquaints a man with strange bed-fellows.


Men can counsel and speak comfort to that grief which they themselves not feel; but tasting it, their counsel turns to passion.

No! I defy all counsel.

Be something scanter of your maiden presence.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. Be able for thine enemy rather in power than use, and keep thy friend under thy own life’s key.

Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest, lend less than thou owest.

Let not the creaking of shoes, nor the rustling of silks, betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders’ books, and defy the foul fiend.

Good counsellors lack no clients.


I praise God for you, sir: your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious; pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, and strange without heresy.


Man’s nature cannot carry the affliction nor the fear.

Age and aging

Age is unnecessary.

Last scene of all, That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion, Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.

Crabbed age and youth cannot live together: youth is full of pleasance, age is full of care; youth like summer morn, age like winter weather; youth like summer brave, age like winter bare. Youth is full of sport, age’s breath is short; youth is nimble, age is lame; youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold; youth is wild, and age is tame. Age, I do abhor thee; youth, I do adore thee: O, my love, my love is young!

William Shakespeare short quotes dictionary
William Shakespeare short quotes dictionary


Priests pray for enemies, but princes kill.


Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Slight air, and purging fire, the first my thought, the other my desire.


Nature teaches beasts to know their friend.


Thou art not for the fashion of these times, where none will sweat but for promotion.

No man’s pie is freed from his ambitious finger.

O foolish youth! Thou seek’st the greatness that will overwhelm thee.

Who does i’th’ wars more than his captain can, becomes his captain’s captain.

Fling away ambition, by that sin fell the angels.

Who doth ambition shun and loves to live i’th’ sun.

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself.

Lowliness is young ambition’s ladder whereto the climber-upward turns his face; but when he once attains the upmost round, he then unto the ladder turns his back, looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees by which he did ascend.

The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

Arm thy heart and fit thy thoughts to mount aloft.

As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him.


I do perceive here a divided duty.

Her tongue will not obey her heart, nor can her heart inform her tongue; the swan’s-down feather that stands upon the swell at the full of tide.


Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.


A winged messenger of heaven.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

We are all men, In our own natures frail, and capable Of our flesh; few are angels.

Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.

Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.


To be in anger is impiety; but who is man that is not angry?

I understand a fury in your words But not the words.

Come not within the measure of my wrath.

Rage must be withstood… Lions make leopards tame.

Come not between the dragon and his wrath!

Let grief Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.

Could I come near your beauty with my nails, I’d set my ten commandments in your face.


To hold opinion with Pythagoras, that souls of animals infuse themselves into the trunks of men.

Pray you no more of this, ‘tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon.

Honeybees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom.

Hark, hark, the lark at heaven’s gate sings.

The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn.

So work the honey-bees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom.

A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

The lark, the herald of the morn.

The fox, who, never so tame, so cherished and locked up, will have a wild trick of his ancestors.

The poor beetle that we tread upon in corporal sufferance finds a pang as great as when a giant dies.

The old bees die, the young possess their hive.

I could endure anything before but a cat, and now he’s a cat to me.

The owl, night’s herald.


What did he when thou saw’st him? What said he? How looked he? Wherein went he? What makes he here? Did he ask for me? Where remains he? How parted he with thee? And when shalt thou see him again? Answer me in one word.


Thou art all ice. Thy kindness freezes.

Some men there are love not a gaping pig, some that are mad if they behold a cat, and others when the bagpipe sings I the nose cannot contain their urine.


Men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive!

O polished perturbation! Golden care! That keep’st the ports of slumber open wide to many a watchful night!

When day’s oppression is not eased by night, but day by night and night by day oppressed.

My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirred; and I myself see not the bottom of it.

So shaken as we are, so wan with care.

Care is no cure, but rather corrosive, for things that are not to be remedied.

Past cure I am, now reason is past care, and frantic mad with evermore unrest.

Where care lodges, sleep will never lie.


Give me some drink; and bid the apothecary bring the strong poison that I bought of him.

O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick.


What art thou that usurp’st this time of night?

I am thy father’s spirit, doomed for a certain term to walk the night, and for the day confined to fast in fires, till the foul crimes done in my days of nature are burnt and purged away.

Show his eyes, and grieve his heart; come like shadows, so depart.

Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, the extravagant and erring spirit hies to his confine.

William Shakespeare quotes dictionary
William Shakespeare quotes dictionary


Ye have angels’ faces, but heaven knows your hearts.

Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems”.

Let’s write good angel on the devil’s horn.

Cucullus non facit monachum; that’s as much to say, as I wear not motley in my brain.

The world is still deceived with ornament.

I am not merry, but I do beguile the thing I am by seeming otherwise.

The devil hath power t’assume a pleasing shape.

All that glisters is not gold.

I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.

There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust.


Tie up the libertine in a field of feasts, Keep his brain fuming; Epicurean cooks Sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite.

Then everything include itself in power, power into will, will into appetite, and appetite, an universal wolf, so doubly seconded with will and power, must make perforce an universal prey, and last eat up himself.


Let never day nor night unhallowed pass, but still remember what the Lord hath done.


O, how this spring of love resembleth The uncertain glory of an April day, Which now shows all the beauty of the sun, And by and by a cloud takes all away.


The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

In a false quarrel there is no true valor.

I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.

O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book; as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct. All these you may avoid but the Lie Direct; and you may avoid that too, with an If.

He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.


I have in equal balance justly weighed what wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we suffer, and find our griefs heavier than our offences.


We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be never so vile. This day shall gentle his condition. And gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

‘Tis the soldier’s life to have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.

Arts and Artists

The object of art is to give life a shape.

Art made tongue-tied by authority.

What fine chisel Could ever yet cut breath?

O, had I but followed the arts!


These earthly godfathers of Heaven’s lights, that give a name to every fixed star, have no more profit of their shining nights than those that walk and know not what they are.


This is the excellent foppery of the world: that when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeits of our own behavior — we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star!


Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar? And the creature run from the cur – there thou mightst behold the great image of authority – a dog’s obeyed in office.

The demi-god, Authority.


The teeming Autumn big with rich increase, bearing the wanton burden of the prime like widowed wombs after their lords decease.


These earthly godfathers of Heaven’s lights, that give a name to every fixed star, have no more profit of their shining nights than those that walk and know not what they are.


I am a bastard, too. I love bastards! I am bastard begot, bastard instructed, bastard in mind, bastard in valor, in everything illegitimate.


To business that we love we rise bedtime, and go to’t with delight.


Brevity is the soul of wit, and tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes.

Bores and Boredom

For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, action nor utterance, nor the power of speech, to stir men’s blood. I only speak right on. I tell you that which you yourselves do know.

Books and Reading

O, let my books be then the eloquence and dumb presages of my speaking breast.


When we are born we cry that we are come.. to this great stage of fools.


I did send to you for certain sums of gold, which you denied me.


For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night.


What angel wakes me from my flowery bed?


To me, fair friend, you never can be old. For as you were when first your eye I eyed. Such seems your beauty still.

Beauty is but a vain and doubtful good; a shining gloss that fadeth suddenly; a flower that dies when it begins to bud; a doubtful good, a gloss, a glass, a flower, lost, faded, broken, dead within an hour.


He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man.


Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?


Every men shift for all the rest, and let no man take care for himself; for all is but fortune. Coragio, bully-monster, coragio!


It is the bright day that brings forth the adder, and that craves wary walking.

To fear the worst oft cures the worse.


Art made tongue-tied by authority.


That’s a valiant flea that dares eat his breakfast on the lip of a lion.

I dare to do all that may become a man: who dares do more is none.

But screw your courage to the sticking-place and we’ll not fail.


Why so large a cost, having so short a lease, does thou upon your fading mansion spend?


God hath given you one face, and you make yourselves another.


When rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what price they will.


Now join your hands, and with your hands your hearts.


‘Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers.


Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood.


My crown is in my heart, not on my head, Nor decked with diamonds and Indian stones, Nor to be seen: My crown is called content: A crown it is, that seldom kings enjoy.


He that is well paid is well satisfied.


My conscience hath a thousand several tongues, and every tongue brings in a several tale, and every tale condemns me for a villain.


Conscience does make cowards of us all.


Conceit, more rich in matter than in words, brags of his substance: they are but beggars who can count their worth.

Conceit in weakest bodies works the strongest.


When you fear a foe, fear crushes your strength; and this weakness gives strength to your opponents.

Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.


Mercy but murders, pardoning those that kill.


Company, villainous company, hath been the spoil of me.

Comedy and Comedians

Though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve.

And I did laugh sans intermission an hour by his dial. O noble fool, a worthy fool — motley’s the only wear.


How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.

Children wish fathers looked but with their eyes; fathers that children with their judgment looked; and either may be wrong.

Thoughts and ideas on William Shakespeare
Thoughts and ideas on William Shakespeare


Your old virginity is like one of our French withered pears: it looks ill, it eats dryly.


I am bewitched with the rogue’s company. If the rascal have not given me medicines to make me love him, I’ll be hanged.


Life every man holds dear; but the dear man holds honor far more precious dear than life.

The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.


For nothing can seem foul to those that win.


The voluntary path to cheerfulness, if our spontaneous be lost, is to sit up cheerfully, and act and speak as if cheerfulness wee already there. To feel brave, act as if we were brave, use all our will to that end, and courage will very likely replace fear. If we act as if from some better feeling, the bad feeling soon folds its tent like an Arab and silently steals away


Ceremony was but devised at first to set a gloss on faint deeds, hollow welcomes, recanting goodness, sorry ere ‘Tis shown; but where there is true friendship, there needs none.

Coward and Cowardice

Cowards die a thousand deaths. The valiant taste of death but once.

Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.

Cries and Crying

I have full cause of weeping, but this heart shall break into a hundred thousand flaws or ere I’ll weep.

When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.

Crime and Criminals

He that is robbed, not wanting what is stolen, him not know t, and he’s not robbed at all.


The time is out of joint. O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right!


The common curse of mankind, folly and ignorance.


Out of this nettle, danger, we pluck this flower, safety.

Send danger from the east unto the west, so honor cross it from the north to south.

Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much; such men are dangerous. [Julius Caesar]

Death and Dying

After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. Treason has done his worst. Nor steel nor poison, malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing can touch him further.

All that live must die, passing through nature to eternity.

But I will be a bridegroom in my death, and run into a lover’s bed.

I care not, a man can die but once; we owe God and death.

The weariest and most loathed worldly life, that age, ache, penury and imprisonment can lay on nature is a paradise, to what we fear of death.

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

Men must endure, their going hence even as their coming hither. Ripeness is all.

Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it.

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie, which we ascribe to heaven.

The undiscovered country form whose born no traveler returns. [Hamlet]


He that dies pays all his debts.

I can get no remedy against this consumption of the purse: borrowing only lingers and lingers it out, but the disease is incurable.

Words pay no debts.


‘Tis but an hour ago since it was nine, and after one hour more twill be eleven. And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe, and then from hour to hour we rot and rot. and thereby hangs a tale.


For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright, who art as black as hell, as dark as night.


Now, neighbor confines, purge you of your scum! Have you a ruffian that will swear, drink, dance, revel the night, rob, murder, and commit the oldest sins the newest kind of ways?


Now, God be praised, that to believing souls gives light in darkness, comfort in despair.

O God, O God, how weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable seem to me all the uses of this world!


Such as we are made of, such we be.


The devil has the power to assume a pleasing shape.

The devil can site scripture for his own purpose! An evil soul producing holy witness is like a villain with a smiling cheek.


That which ordinary men are fit for, I am qualified in. and the best of me is diligence.


The apparel oft proclaims the man.


Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy; rich not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man.


Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise.

Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we might win, by fearing to attempt.

Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we might win, by fearing to attempt.

Modest doubt is called the beacon of the wise.


I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life, is rounded with a sleep. [The Tempest]

Thought are but dreams till their effects are tried.

That, if then I had waked after a long sleep, will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming, the clouds me thought would open and show riches ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked I cried to dream again.

That, if then I had waked after a long sleep, will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming, the clouds me thought would open and show riches ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked I cried to dream again.

Thought are but dreams till their effects are tried.

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life, is rounded with a sleep. [The Tempest]

I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream.


Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, but not expressed in fancy; rich not gaudy; for the apparel oft proclaims the man.

The apparel oft proclaims the man.


Pleasure and revenge have ears more deaf than adders to the voice of any true decision.


Nothing can come of nothing.

Troilus and Cressida, that most vexing and ambiguous of Shakespeare's plays
Troilus and Cressida, that most vexing and ambiguous of Shakespeare’s plays


For ‘Tis the sport to have the engineer hoisted with his own petard.


No sooner met but they looked; no sooner looked but they loved; no sooner loved but they sighed; no sooner sighed but they asked one another the reason; no sooner knew the reason but they sought the remedy; and in these degrees have they made a pair of stairs to marriage, which they will climb incontinent, or else be incontinent before marriage.


Many can brook the weather that love not the wind.


What masque? What music? How shall we beguile the lazy time, if not with some delight?


Expectation is the root of all heartache.


Good counselors lack no clients.


And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.


When workmen strive to do better than well, they do confound their skill in covetousness.

Then to Silvia let us sing that Silvia is excelling. She excels each mortal thing upon the dull earth dwelling.


There is occasions and causes why and wherefore in all things.


There’s small choice in rotten apples.


Oh, what a bitter thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes.


God had given you one face, and you make yourself another. [Hamlet]

Thus is his cheek the map of days outworn.

The tartness of his face sours ripe grapes.


Time hath a wallet at his back, wherein he puts. Alms for oblivion, a great-sized monster of ingratitudes.

Glory is like a circle in the water, which never ceaseth to enlarge itself, till, by broad spreading, it disperse to naught.

Death makes no conquest of this conqueror: For now he lives in fame, though not in life.

Celebrity is never more admired than by the negligent.


The voice of parents is the voice of gods, for to their children they are heaven’s lieutenants.


Sweets grown common lose their dear delight.


Fashion wears out more clothes than the man.

The apparel oft proclaims the man.


Come, let’s have one other gaudy night. Call to me. All my sad captains. Fill our bowls once more. Let’s mock the midnight bell.


There is tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries; on such a full sea we are now afloat; and we must take the current the clouds folding and unfolding beyond the horizon. when it serves, or lose our ventures.

Men at sometime are the masters of their fate.

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves; we are underlings.


It is a wise father that knows his own child.

William Shakespeare short aphoristic dictionary (part 2) by Carl William Brown

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