The world is your oyster is an expression used to express to someone that they can achieve anything they wish in life or go anywhere because you have the opportunity or ability to do so.
It is often said to young people about to embark on adult life. It simply means that everything is open to one, and if one is lucky they could encounter something special.
The saying has mysteriously evolved from its original appearance in one of Shakespeare’s comedies, The Merry Wives of Windsor. It’s slightly misquoted, as is so often the case with Shakespeare references that become English idioms. The actual quote from the comedy was written as the following: “The world’s mine oyster.”
One theory is that the phrase was initially related to wealth, but now means ‘all life’s richness’ with the pearl in the oyster signifying this.
The world is your oyster is used quite widely in spoken English in informal situations. People often use this phrase as an inspirational tool to stress that somebody has choices – that the world is theirs – and they can do what they want with their lives.
In 2015 BBC Learning English posted an educational video about the idiom on YouTube, which has gathered 35.000 views as of today.
- Nosweatshakespeare.com – ‘The World Is Your Oyster’ Saying Origin & Meaning
- Oysterenglish.com – The world is your oyster