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"The world is your oyster" – phrase of the week

Written by the Bell Team

Find out about the phrase "The world is your oyster", its history, how we use it in the English language and other related phrases.


“The world is your oyster” 


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, no commitments – the world is your oyster!


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.


  • 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

That’s interesting!  

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.

Other famous phrases Shakespeare wrote

  • A foregone conclusion
  • All of a sudden
  • Up in arms
  • Too much of a good thing

Other phrases related to success

  • Mighty oaks from little acorns grow
  • If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again
  • Nothing succeeds like success

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Written by the Bell Team,
Bringing you up-to-date information and useful insights from Bell, so you know exactly how we can support you - when the time is right.