Turn in his grave

Posted by R. Berg on March 20, 2003

In Reply to: Do you know? posted by zhs on March 20, 2003

: 'make Shakespeare turn in his grave.' Does anybody know its origin and meaning? Thanks!

I don't know when people started saying that some event would make Shakespeare or Newton or Gertrude Stein turn in his or her grave. This common expression means that what happened is so improper in some way (morally, esthetically, strategically, . . . ) that it would upset a dead person who, in life, had been an authority in the relevant field.