Wordy Wednesday – “It’s all Greek to me”

We’re back! Hi everyone, and sorry for the break. Your blogger went on vacation. Anyway, here’s a Wordy Wednesday post for you. Have you ever responded to something that you didn’t understand with the phrase, “It’s all Greek to me?” Well, guess what: it’s from Shakespeare!

The phrase means that something is incomprehensible to the speaker, much like Greek would be if you didn’t actually speak or read it. It’s from Julius Caesar, a play set in ancient Rome:

CASSIUS: Did Cicero say any thing?
CASCA: Ay, he spoke Greek.
CASSIUS: To what effect?
CASCA: Nay, an I tell you that, I’ll ne’er look you i’ the face again: but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me.

Casca has no idea what Cicero was saying, because he was speaking Greek and Casca doesn’t understand it. Shakespeare popularized the usage of this phrase, which had existed in some form or another for many years prior to the first performance of Julius Caesar. Another Elizabethan playwright, Thomas Dekker, used the phrase as well in his play Patient Grissel.

Today, of course, people who use this phrase don’t mean that things are literally in Greek – just that they are incomprehensible or hard to understand!


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