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Mortal coil

Posted by ESC on November 02, 2003

In Reply to: "Shuffle off this mortal COIL" (Shakespeare) posted by Bruce on November 02, 2003

: I believe this word "Coil" could be a misheard misnomer.
: The correct phrase might be "mortal CAUL" which one indeed "shuffles off". The caul was given great importance in the past.

MORTAL COIL - "Shakespeare is really twisting syntax with this one. 'Coil' generally means a 'fuss' or a 'to-do' - as in the line, 'for the wedding being here to-morrow, there is a great coil tonight' ('Much Ado About Nothing,' Act 3, scene 1). But a to-do can't be 'mortal,' so what Hamlet must mean is 'this tumultuous world of mortals.'" From "Brush Up on Your Shakespeare!" By Michael Macrone (Gramercy Books, New York, 1999).

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