With Shakespeare being the most quoted English writer it’s impossible to say definitively which are his most popular quotes, but we’ve examined available polls that have been published around the world and can now offer you the 50 most famous Shakespeare quotes.

Some are famous for their beauty some for their everyday truths and some for their wisdom. We often talk about the quotes as things the wise Bard is saying to us but we should remember that some of the apparently wisest words are spoken by some of Shakespeare’s biggest fools. For example, both ‘neither a borrower nor a lender be,’ and ‘to thine own self be true’ are both from the foolish, garrulous, quite disreputable Polonius in Hamlet.

Here are Shakespeare’s most famous 50 quotes in no particular order:

  1. To be, or not to be: that is the question. (Hamlet)
  2. All the world ‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts. (As You Like it)
  3. Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? (Romeo and Juliet)
  4. Now is the winter of our discontent. (Richard III)
  5. Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? (Macbeth)
  6. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them. (Twelfth Night)
  7. Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once. (Julius Caesar)
  8. Full fathom five thy father lies, of his bones are coral made. Those are pearls that were his eyes. Nothing of him that doth fade, but doth suffer a sea-change into something rich and strange. (The Tempest)
  9. A man can die but once. (Henry IV, Part 2)
  10. How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child! (King Lear)
  11. By heaven, methinks it were an easy leap to pluck bright honor from the pale-faced moon, or dive into the bottom of the deep, where fathom-line could never touch the ground, and pluck up drowned honour by the locks. (Henry IV Part 1)
  12. If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? (The Merchant of Venice)
  13. I am one who loved not wisely but too well. (Othello)
  14. If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottage princes’ palaces. (The Merchant of Venice)
  15. We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. (The Tempest)
  16. Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. (Macbeth)
  17. Beware the Ides of March. (Julius Caesar)
  18. Get thee to a nunnery. (Hamlet)
  19. If music be the food of love play on. (Twelfth Night)
  20. What’s in a name? A rose by any name would smell as sweet. (Romeo and Juliet)
  21. As merry as the day is long. (Much Ado about Nothing)
  22. To thine own self be true. (Hamlet)
  23. All that glisters is not gold. (The Merchant of Venice)
  24. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears: I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. (Julius Caesar)
  25. Nothing will come of nothing. (King Lear)
  26. The course of true love never did run smooth. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  27. Lord, what fools these mortals be! (A Midsummer Night’s dream)
  28. Whoever loved that loved not at first sight? (As You Like It)
  29. There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. (Hamlet)
  30. A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse! (Richard III)
  31. Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day. (Macbeth)
  32. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind. (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
  33. The fault, dear Brutus, lies not within the stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings. (Julius Caesar)
  34. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? (Sonnet 18)
  35. Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. (Sonnet 116)
  36. He doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus; and we petty men walk under his huge legs, and peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves. (Julius Caesar)
  37. But, for my own part, it was Greek to me. (Julius Caesar)
  38. Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. (Hamlet)
  39. The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne, burn’d on the water. (Antony and Cleopatra)
  40. Off with his head! (Richard III)
  41. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. (Henry IV, Part 2)
  42. Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. (The Tempest)
  43. This is very midsummer madness. (Twelfth Night)
  44. Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps. (Much Ado about Nothing)
  45. I cannot tell what the dickens his name is. (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
  46. We have seen better days. (Timon of Athens)
  47. I am a man more sinned against than sinning. (King Lear)
  48. Golden lads and girls all must, as chimney-sweepers, come to dust. (Cymbeline)
  49. This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle…This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. (Richard II)
  50. What light through yonder window breaks(Romeo and Juliet)

What do you think – any famous Shakespeare quotes missing from the above list?

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