Posted by R. Berg on May 09, 2001
In Reply to: "The world is your oyster" posted by ESC on May 09, 2001
: : What is this phrase supposed to mean? Where did it come from or from where is it originated?
: Search under "oyster" to access a previous discussion. Here it is in part:
: THE WORLD IS AN (ONE'S) OYSTER - "If you have a lot of money, you can have anything you want. The proverb first appears in Shakespeare's play 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' .'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" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
: : : A second reference says the phrase means: "All the pleasures and opportunities of life are open to someone because he is young, rich, handsome, successful, etc. Shakespeare invented or popularized this expression." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
: : : OK. I'm confused. Does "the world is my oyster" mean:
: : : a. I have money, therefore all the good things of the world are available to me.
: : : b. I don't have money, therefore the world is my oyster and I'm going to look for the pearl. OR
: : : c. I'm young and good-looking and my mama loves me, therefore even though I don't have money, all the good things of the world are available to me.
: : : The world is yours for the taking; whatever you make of it.
: Yep. I think you've got it.
And why was the oyster chosen for this metaphor? I think because it's such easy prey. It doesn't have to be hunted, it doesn't run away like a fish, it doesn't require cooking. If you find one, you just pick it up, pry it open, and dig in.