Shakespeare Coined Hundreds of Words and Phrases In Use Today

May 23, 2011 at 2:00 am 2 comments

By Kyle Kurpinski

Among high schoolers (and even among many adults) William Shakespeare’s writing has a reputation for being horrendously confusing. Consider this quote from The Tempest (IV, i, 51-54):

Look thou be true; do not give dalliance

Too much the rein: the strongest oaths are straw

To th” fire i’th” blood: be more abstemious,

Or else, good night your vow!

I am well out of high school, but passages like that remind me why I majored in Engineering and not English Lit.

Yet, the Bard’s reputation for using baffling and “archaic” language isn’t necessarily well-deserved. Estimates vary as to the exact number of unique words found in Shakespeare’s complete works, but there is a general consensus that his plays and poetry contain approximately 1,700 words never previously seen in print, and not all of them are obscure relics like crant (garland/crown) or rigol (circle). Here is just a small sampling of “everyday” words originally given to us by William Shakespeare:

  • Bloody
  • Bump
  • Critic
  • Eyeball
  • Gloomy
  • Gossip
  • Housekeeping
  • Hurry
  • Laughable
  • Lonely
  • Obscene
  • Road
  • Skim milk

If that wasn’t enough of a contribution, the Bard also created phrases such as:

  • Wear one’s heart upon one’s sleeve
  • Love is blind
  • Good riddance
  • Heart’s content
  • Discretion is the better part of valour
  • A foregone conclusion

Shakespeare didn’t necessarily invent all these bits of language; he wrote at a time when English was rapidly evolving and mass publishing was in its early stages, so in some cases he may have only been the first to print them. But even if he didn’t coin all these terms from scratch, most scholars seem to agree that he was probably responsible for a fair share. Confounding verses and outdated words aside, Shakespeare should be remembered for what he was: one heck of an incredible writer and a pioneer of new language. To see more of Shakespeare’s commonly used words and phrases, click on the sources below.

 Broken Secrets | Facebook | Twitter | Email | Kindle

Source: No Sweat Shakespeare, Shakespeare-Online, WordSpin, The Phrase Finder, Wikipedia

Image: Wikipedia

Entry filed under: Demystified, History and Origins. Tags: , , , , , .

Redheads Require More Anesthesia Pro Baseball Teams Use 900,000 Balls Each Year

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. aliceinwaiting  |  May 23, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    That’s very interesting. Shakespeare always baffled me. Although, I had to read Twelfth Night for a British Lit class last year, and I didn’t think it was as confusing as I thought Macbeth was when I was a junior in high school. Macbeth kicked my tail. I’m supposed to be taking a Shakespeare’s Comedies class next Fall, so we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully it won’t be too bad, though. Although it would’ve been really helpful if I could’ve gotten the same professor I had when I read TN, but I didn’t…

    Reply
    • 2. watup769  |  March 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      yes but how many words were and are used today

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Follow Broken Secrets

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 5,755 other followers

Big Awards


Best Personal Blog/Website (People's Voice)


W3 Award - Copy Writing

Read Secrets on Your Kindle

Categories

Play Hashi Link

Featured by…

• Yahoo
• Business Insider
• NPR
• BBC
• Smithsonian Magazine
• USA Today
• AskMen (and many more...)

Contact Info


%d bloggers like this: