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The meaning and origin of the expression: Much ado about nothing

Much ado about nothing

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Much Ado about Nothing'?

'Much ado about nothing' means 'a great deal of fuss over a thing of little importance'.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Much Ado about Nothing'?

The meaning and origin of the phrase 'Much Ado about Nothing'The phrase 'much ado about nothing' is best known to us as the title of Shakespeare's play, which he published in 1599. He had used the word ado, which means business or activity, in an earlier play - Romeo and Juliet, 1592:

"Weele keepe no great adoe, a Friend or two."

Ado, or as it was more commonly spelled in Tudor England, adoe was a widely used word at that time.

Shakespeare didn't coin 'much ado about nothing', although we probably wouldn't consider it part of the language without the boost it got from being elevated by him.

The earliest known use of the expression in print is found in a pamphlet printed by John Whitgift, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, entitled The defense of the aunswere to the Admonition, against the replie of T.C, 1574:

How dare you presume to say that to be comanded which is not mentioned, & to make so much adoe about nothing?

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

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