"The world is your oyster"
Find out about the famous phrase “The world is your oyster”, and learn about its history, how and when we use it in the English language.
How do we use it?
First let’s look at an example of how this phrase is used in context:
Q. I don’t know what to do now I’ve finished university! What do you think?
A. You can do anything you want – the world is your oyster. You could travel for a year, or get a job.
A. You’re young and healthy with no commitments – the world is your oyster!
What does it mean?
Using the context of the example above, the phrase “the world is your oyster” means that you can achieve anything you wish in life or go anywhere because you have the opportunity or ability to do so.
When do we use it?
It is used quite widely in spoken English in informal situations.
You often use this phrase as an inspirational tool to stress that somebody has choices – that the world is theirs – and they can do what they want with their lives.
This phrase was coined by William Shakespeare and first appears in his play The Merry Wives Of Windsor.
Falstaff: “I will not lend thee a penny”
Pistol: “Why then the world’s mine oyster, which I with sword will open.”
One theory is that the phrase initially related to wealth, but now means ‘all life’s richness’ with the pearl in the oyster signifying this.
Look closely at our walls in Bell London and you will find a painting of this famous Shakespearean phrase.
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