Alas, Poor Yorick: Have You Ever Wondered Why We Use It?

What does the idiom “Alas, Poor Yorick” mean? If you have ever heard this term used in conversation, you may have wondered what it means and where it came from. This interesting idiom may have had you wondering why we use it, let’s take a look at the meaning behind this phrase.

Alas, Poor Yorick

Alas, Poor Yorick Meaning

Alas, poor Yorick is a phrase which talks about how brief life can be and that we do not have much time in this life. It refers to the fragility of life also and allows us to contemplate on this issue.

Origin of this idiom

This term was first used in the play Hamlet, by William Shakespeare and was quoted by the character Hamlet whilst holding the skull of Yorick and thinking about the fate of humans. From this old play, the saying has grown in popularity and is still used today.

“Alas, Poor Yorick” Examples

You might use the idiom, alas, poor Yorick when thinking about the death of a loved one and the phrase is commonly used in funeral services to remember the fleeting life of the deceased. The phrase might also be used when teaching someone about the nature of life and its briefness.

Conversation examples:

To use the term Alas, poor Yorick in a conversation, you might hear something along these lines:

Conversation 1:

  • Parent: Life does not last forever, son and we should appreciate each moment.
  • Son: Surely it can’t be that short?
  • Parent: You would be surprised how quickly life passes, alas, poor Yorick.

Conversation 2:

  • Person 1: We are here to remember our loved one, Trevor, who’s life was just a drop in eternity.
  • Person 2: Alas, poor Yorick.

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