“Making Heads or Tails of Idioms” Newsletter. Volume 1. Issue 7. Part 2 of 3.
Original Release: 3/2/2011
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What was said? The world is your oyster
Did someone really say that? Lindsey D. said it to her husband when she said wanted him to choose the restaurant to dine at.
What does it mean? All the options are available to you… the world is yours for the taking, whatever you make of it
Origin: Getting the pearl requires the oyster to be opened. But despite the hardness of the oyster shell, they can be opened with ease. Oyster shells are held closed by a single muscle called the adductor. Oysters are shucked (opened) using a thin knife to cut the adductor muscle. Once the adductor is cut, the shell falls open. Thus…if the world is your oyster then it is a place where you can get something of great value with ease.
The proverb first appears in Shakespeare’s play ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ (1600).’Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny. Pistol: Why, then, the world’s mine oyster, Which I with sword will open.’ Act II, Scene II.” From “Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings” (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
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