For ever and a day


What's the meaning of the phrase 'For ever and a day'?

Indefinitely.

What's the origin of the phrase 'For ever and a day'?

Of course, for ever and a day is an dramatic construct with no literal meaning – for ever is for ever, we can’t add days to it. This form of dramatic emphasis has been used many times, a recent example being The Beatles’ song ‘Eight Days a Week’ and the widespread use of 110% effort.

Shakespeare coined ‘for ever and a day’ and used it in The Taming of the Shrew, 1596:

BIONDELLO: I cannot tell; expect they are busied about a counterfeit assurance: take you assurance of her, ‘privilegio ad imprimendum solum:’ to the church; take the priest, clerk, and some sufficient honest witnesses: If this be not that you look for, I have no more to say, But bid Bianca farewell for ever and a day.

He must have liked it as he used it again in As You Like It, 1600:

ROSALIND: Now tell me how long you would have her after you have possessed her.
ORLANDO: For ever and a day.

Trend of for ever and a day in printed material over time

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.

Gary Martin

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.