Words invented by Shakespeare

Everyone knows that Will is a complete badass when it comes to the English language. But just how much of a badass you ask? Well, for one, Will created over 1,700 common words that before him were ether not used in the way they were after, or didn’t exist at all. He did this by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, or when he couldn’t get across what he wanted that way, just invented entirely new words from scratch and let the context carry it around the English speaking world. Here are just a few examples:

Academe, Accused, Addiction, Advertising, Amazement, Arouse, Assassination, Bandit, Bedroom, Beached, Birthplace, Blanket, Blood-stained, Blushing, Bet, Bump, Buzzer, Champion, Circumstantial, Cold-blooded, Critic, Compromise, Dauntless, Dawn, Deafening, Discontent, Dishearten, Drugged, Epileptic, Elbow, Equivocal, Excitement, Eyeball, Exposure, Fashionable, Flawed, Gloomy, Gossip, Gust, Hint, Hobnob, Hurried, Impede, Impartial, Invulnerable, Jaded, Label, Lackluster, Laughable, Lonely, Luggage, Lustrous, Madcap, Majestic, Marketable, Moonbeam, Mimic, Marketable, Mountaineer, Negotiate, Obscene, Ode, Outbreak, Puking, Radiance, Rant, Savagery, Scuffle, Secure, Submerge, Summit, Swagger, Torture, Tranquil, Undress, Unreal, Worthless, Zany

 He also invented a number of full phases that became common language in no time at all. This is best illustrated in this quote from Bernard Levin:

If you cannot understand my argument, and declare “It’s Greek to me”, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you claim to be more sinned against than sinning, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you recall your salad days, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you act more in sorrow than in anger, if your wish is father to the thought, if your lost property has vanished into thin air, you are quoting Shakespeare; if you have ever refused to budge an inch or suffered from green-eyed jealousy, if you have played fast and loose, if you have been tongue-tied, a tower of strength, hoodwinked or in a pickle, if you have knitted your brows, made a virtue of necessity, insisted on fair play, slept not one wink, stood on ceremony, danced attendance (on your lord and master), laughed yourself into stitches, had short shrift, cold comfort or too much of a good thing, if you have seen better days or lived in a fool’s paradise – why, be that as it may, the more fool you, for it is a foregone conclusion that you are (as good luck would have it) quoting Shakespeare; if you think it is early days and clear out bag and baggage, if you think it is high time and that that is the long and short of it, if you believe that the game is up and that truth will out even if it involves your own flesh and blood, if you lie low till the crack of doom because you suspect foul play, if you have your teeth set on edge (at one fell swoop) without rhyme or reason, then – to give the devil his due – if the truth were known (for surely you have a tongue in your head) you are quoting Shakespeare; even if you bid me good riddance and send me packing, if you wish I were dead as a door-nail, if you think I am an eyesore, a laughing stock, the devil incarnate, a stony-hearted villain, bloody-minded or a blinking idiot, then – by Jove! O Lord! Tut, tut! for goodness’ sake! what the dickens! but me no buts – it is all one to me, for you are quoting Shakespeare. (Bernard Levin. From The Story of English. Robert McCrum, William Cran and Robert MacNeil. Viking: 1986).


~ by herodotuswept on November 24, 2007.

One Response to “Words invented by Shakespeare”

  1. Nice, but need the definition of this motherfu*ker shit, you know what I mean! 😀

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