word use: oyster vs. ostler

Why do people say, “and the world will be your oyster?” It seems as if it would make more sense to say, “the word will be your ostler.” If I remember correctly “ostler” means stable hand

That was of course, the world, not word, will be your ostler.:smack:

“Oyster” as in “something to be opened carefully and savored at your leisure”. If we were coining the phrase today, we might have put it as, “The world will be your Christmas present” or “The world will be your toy”.

“Ostler” is actually an H-dropping variant of “hostler”.

I’m not 100% sure that DDG’s take on the reason for the oyster being used in the phrase is entirely correct.

On Phrase Finder, amid discussions concerning Shakespeare etc

is one other possibility:

You could say the world, in one way or another, came to him.

An ostler/hostler looks after horses and mules, among other meanings, according to Merriam-Webster, but it originated in the word hostel, and once meant the innkeeper himself, who kept stables for the travellers who were his main business.

You could say, in one way, that the world came to him.

Very interesting, thank you.

The world will be your man who looks after horses?

I don’t get it.

No, no the world will be your Super 8 Motel and will leave the light on for you.

That would be Motel 6 with Tom Bodett leaving the light on for you.

I think everyone’s missed one big point, which is that oysters can contain pearls. Pearls! The world is your oyster, to open and pluck out the prize.


I was thinking that being a stable hand would be dirty work. Therefore, this expression could mean that the world would be like a kind of lowly servant to you.

chriszarate’s suggestion could have merit, too. Sounds like it sums up what some folks expect from the world:

“Oh, boy, an oyster! It will have a pearl in it, and then I’m rich! … Uh, dang, no. Just an oyster inside. Okay … oo, look! Another one! …”

Hope springs eternal. :slight_smile:

In Brooklyn, the world would be your erster.