Saturday, February 11, 2017
William Shakespeare: Inventor Of Words
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was not only a prolific writer, he is said to have introduced thousands of words and phrases into the English language. However, it is commonly suggested that Shakespeare might not have invented certain words and phrases, but rather his works are the first time the words were actually written down. The argument by many scholars is that words and phrases attributed to Shakespeare were probably spoken first. This does not discount the fact, however, that Shakespeare was a master of the English language, demonstrating great wit.
In all of his works (the plays, the sonnets and the narrative poems), Shakespeare uses 17,677 words. Of those words, Shakespeare ‘invented’ an incredible 1,700 of them. We say invented, though in reality many of these 1,700 words would likely have been in common parlance, just not written down prior to Shakespeare. Historian Jonathan Hope also points out that Victorian scholars who read texts for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary read Shakespeare’s texts more thoroughly than most, and cited him more often, meaning Shakespeare is often credited with the first use of words which can be found in other writers.
That said, it is Shakespeare who is credited with bringing into usage the below list of words that we still use in our daily speech some of them frequently.
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Words That Shakespeare Invented
Along with these everyday words, Shakespeare also used a number of words in his plays that never quite caught on in the same way… words like ‘Armgaunt’, ‘Eftes’, ‘Impeticos’, ‘Insisture’, ‘Pajock’, ‘Pioned’ ‘Ribaudred’ and ‘Wappened’. We do have some ideas as to what these words may mean, though much is guesswork.