Shakespeare’s English

23 Mar


People living in the English-speaking countries quote Shakespeare all the time. It might happen that we use some phrases being unaware of the fact that it was Shakespeare who created them. What a surprise: the worst enemy of many students (high school + Shakespeare = eternal love) came up with such brilliant phrases! The commonly used phrase “much ado about nothing” (Polish equivalent: ‘wiele hałasu o nic’; a well-known phrase) turns out to be the title of one of Shakespeare’s comedies.

Nobody knows the exact number of words created by Shakespeare. Some claim it was 600, the others say it might have been around 1700 (or even up to 2000!). Many of Shakespeare’s neologisms became widely popular straight away and are used even nowadays. I’m just wondering (since the plays were full of new, unknown words): how did the audience manage to understand what was happening on the stage? 😉  That we’ll never know but what we know is that our dear Will came up with phrases such as: high time, heart’s content, sorry sight, come what may, or the favourite of all the romantic souls: love is blind.

Here’s the list of words created by Shakespeare (though it’s still disputable whether it was Will who created them):


accused, addiction, alligator, amazement, anchovies, assassination, backing, bandit, bedroom, bump, buzzer, courtship, critic, dawn, design, dickens, discontent, embrace, employer, engagements, excitements, exposure, eyeball, fixture, futurity, glow, gust, hint, immediacy, investments, kickshaws, leapfrog, luggage, manager, mimic, misgiving, mountaineer, ode, outbreak, pageantry, pedant, perusal, questioning, reinforcement, retirement, roadway, rumination, savagery, scuffle, shudders, switch, tardiness, transcendence, urging, watchdog, wormhole, zany


besmirch, bet, blanket, cake, cater, champion, compromise, cow, denote, deracinate, dialogue, dislocate, divest, drug, dwindle, elbow, enmesh, film, forward, gossip, grovel, hobnob, humour, hurry, impede, jet, jig, label, lapse, lower, misquote, negotiate, numb, pander, partner,  petition, puke, rant, reword, secure, submerge, swagger, torture, unclog


aerial, auspicious, baseless, beached, bloodstained, blushing, circumstantial, consanguineous, dauntless, deafening, disgraceful, domineering, enrapt,  epileptic, equivocal, eventful, fashionable, foregone, frugal, generous, gloomy, gnarled, hushed, inaudible, invulnerable, jaded, juiced, lackluster, laughable, lonely, lustrous, madcap, majestic, marketable, monumental, nervy, noiseless, obscene, olympian, premeditated, promethean, quarrelsome, radiant, rancorous, reclusive, remorseless, rival, sacrificial, sanctimonious, softhearted, splitting, stealthy, traditional, tranquil, unmitigated, unreal, varied, vaulting, viewless, widowed, worthless, yelping


importantly, instinctively, obsequiously, threateningly, tightly, trippingly

Funny thing that Shakespeare came up with the verb ‘misquote’ and now he’s probably the most misquoted person in the world 😉


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