Ever since I was young, I have had a fascination (interest in) with words- especially those words invented by Shakespeare. He was truly a masterful (brilliant, expert) writer whose range went from comedy to tragedy to comedy-tragedy. Whether someone was getting married or brutally (violently, strongly) murdered, he had an eloquent (stylish, nice) and inventive way to describe it.
Shakespeare invented an estimated 1,700 words on his own when he couldn’t describe something with a word already in existence. Many of these words are still in use today!
As a tribute to Shakespeare’s inventiveness, here are 27 words (and their definitions, thanks to our friends at Merriam-Webster) invented by the Bard himself.
(noun) one charged with an offense; especially : the defendant in a criminal case
- Example: The accused woman walked into the courtroom.
(noun) the action of calling something to the attention of the public, especially by paid announcements
- Example: Advertising on social media is great for targeting a specific market.
(noun) a feeling of astonishment : the quality or state of being amazed
- Example: She stood in amazement in front of the newly refurbished house.
(verb) to murder (a usually prominent person) by sudden or secret attack often for political reasons
- Example: President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in 1865.
(noun) a room furnished with a bed and intended primarily for sleeping
- Example: We sleep in a small, yet cozy bedroom in our house.
(noun) a large usually oblong piece of woven fabric used as a bed covering
- Example: Could you get me another blanket, please, I’m cold.
(noun) an electric signaling device that makes a buzzing sound
- Example: The competition begins at the sound of the buzzer!
(adjective) belonging to, consisting in, or dependent on circumstances
- Example: The evidence against the accused was circumstantial; therefore, there is no way to prove a connection to the crime.
(adverb) too numerous to be counted
- Example: There were countless mistakes in the text and the book had to be rewritten.
(noun) the first appearance of light in the morning followed by sunrise
- Example: The rooster begins to crow at the light of dawn.
(verb) to begin to appear or develop
- Example: A great idea suddenly dawned on her as she was stepping out of the car.
(verb) to cause to lose hope, enthusiasm, or courage : to cause to lose spirit or morale
- Example: I was disheartened when I heard that my dog’s cancer was incurable.
(verb) to shove aside by pushing with (or as if) with the elbow
- Example: The woman elbowed past the other passengers to get off the train.
(noun) something that excites or rouses
- Example: The excitement was palpable throughout the crowd during the game.
(noun) the more or less globular capsule of the vertebrate eye formed by the sclera and cornea together with their contained structures
- Example: Contact lenses are worn on the eyeball.
(adjective) conforming to the custom, fashion, or established mode
- Example: The man’s fashionable outfit reflected the latest trends.
(verb) to relate gossip
- Example: In order to avoid the office gossiping about the recently fired employee, the manager held a meeting to clarify the situation publicly.
(noun) an indirect or general suggestion for how to do or solve something
- Example: We spoke to the college counselers for a few hints on how to successfully apply.
(adjective) not partial or biased
- Example: A mother is never impartial to her own children and her opinion of them will always be biased.
(verb) to describe or designate with or as if with a label
- Example: The house was labeled uninhabitable after the flood.
(adjective) of a kind to provoke laughter or sometimes derision
- Example: The child’s request for candy before dinner was laughable!
(noun) something that is lugged; especially : suitcases for a traveler’s belongings
- Example: You may check only one piece of luggage with no charge.
(verb) to confer with another so as to arrive at the settlement of some matter
- Example: We negotiated the price of the car with the dealer.
(verb) to vomit
- Example: Drinking too much alcohol makes me puke!
(verb) to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner
- Example: She is always ranting about something with no clear point to her complaints.
(noun) milk from which the cream has been taken
- Example: Skim milk tastes like milky water- there is no flavor to it!
(verb) to remove the clothes or covering of
- Example: The doctor asked her to undress before her exam.
(adjective) fantastically or absurdly ludicrous
- Example: The circus clowns put on a zany, outrageous performance.
If nothing else, Shakespeare showed a huge interest and creativity of the English language. We would be quite lost in some of our daily descriptions if not for these words invented by Shakespeare!
So, be more like Shakespeare! If you can’t think of the right word, why not make it up yourself?
Did any of these words invented by Shakespeare surprise you? Let us know in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, lives a pretty zany life herself!