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

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Much ado about nothing

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

A great deal of fuss over nothing of importance.

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

Portrait of William ShakespeareThe 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?

See other phrases and sayings from Shakespeare.

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