Tuesday, June 6, 2017
The Origins of Common Expressions, No. 28: It's Greek To Me
Oregin: The phrase goes back to at least the early 17th century and it was used by two different playwrights from this time period. Their names were Thomas Dekkar and William Shakespeare.
In Dekkar's play Patient Grissel, For example, from the1603 play:
FAR: Asking for some Greek poet, to him he fails. I’ll be sworn he knows not so much as one
character of the tongue.
Not long after, Shakespeare uses the expression in his 1616 play, Julius Caesar :
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.
William Shakespeare (portrait)