What Does Much Ado About Nothing Mean?

Much Ado About Nothing Meaning

Definition: A lot of trouble or complaining about a small problem.

A common misspelling of this phrase is much todo about nothing.

Origin of Much Ado About Nothing

This expression dates back to at least the 1500s. The English playwright William Shakespeare used it as the title of one of his plays. However, the expression existed before his play bore the name.

The word ado means a big fuss and is kept alive mostly because of this phrase.

Examples of Much Ado About Nothing

much ado definition

This example shows two women discussing their teenage children.

Bella: How’s your daughter doing?

Hannah: Oh, she’s doing fine, but she’s very dramatic.

Bella: My son is pretty dramatic. What does your daughter do that is so dramatic?

Hannah: She’s always making a big deal out of small problems. It’s much ado about nothing.

Bella: Like what?

Hannah: Like she’ll break a nail and act like the world is ending. Or she’ll miss a text from her boyfriend and act like that means they’re going to break up.

Bella: I think that is just how teenagers act. My son does the same thing. He’ll get a mark on his new shoes and act as if his entire outfit is ruined.

much ado about nothing idiomThe following example shows two college students whispering to each other in class.

Hanh: I’m so angry! The teacher told us we all have to retake the test from last week. I got 100% on that test. I don’t want to have to take it again.

Zhongyi: What happened? Why do we have to take it again?

Hanh: He found one person who cheated and decided that we all have to take it again, just in case more of us cheated. I think it’s much ado about nothing.

Zhongyi: I guess he wants to make sure the grades reflect our ability.

Hanh: I understand that, but it’s just one person who cheated. It’s not fair or reasonable to punish all of us for it.

More Examples

The excerpt is about a big controversy over a very small and insignificant part of a movie.

  • After the film’s big opening weekend, many moviegoers described the controversy as much ado about nothing. –USA Today

The second example is about underinflated footballs in a professional football league.

  • “Much ado about nothing,” New York Giants President and CEO John Mara said Wednesday at the league meetings. –USA Today

Summary

The expression much ado about nothing means acting as if a small problem, or no problem at all, is a huge problem.