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The meaning and origin of the expression: Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog

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Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog

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Meaning

The archetypal recipe for spells and enchantments.

Origin

This is the well-known incantation of the Three Witches in Shakespeare's Macbeth, 1605:

All:
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch:
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

We now see the three witches' brew as a hocus-pocus spell, much imitated by spoof witches in comedies and hardly to be taken seriously. In Shakespeare's day the effect would have been rather different and he could have expected a significant proportion of the audience to have taken the magic potion storyline literally.

See other - phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.