We all know Shakespeare as a timeless playwright, but did you know that he’s also famous for his endlessly imaginative creation of words?
From swagger to unreal, read our favorite words coined by Shakespeare in this spoken English online lesson!
You might be thinking, how did Shakespeare get credit for inventing words like swagger and arch-villain? Well, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the dictionary renowned for recording the origin of English words, dedicates time to reading a ton of books, articles and scripts to find the first recorded use of a word. Many of Shakespeare’s inventions in this spoken English online have become natural in everyday language.
It turns out that Shakespeare’s scripts contain over 2200 never-before-seen words. 1700 of them which are mindlessly used in everyday conversation. Shakespeare played with language made up new words by loaning words from other languages, changing nouns into verbs and verbs into adjectives, adding prefixes and suffixes and connecting random words together.
It’s hard to know whether Shakespeare was the first to use these words, but in most cases he is believed to be the first to record them in writing. Out of the 2200 words coined by Shakespeare, here‘s our pick of the most amusing ones:
Spoken English Online Word #1: Swagger
Meaning: Walk or behave in a very confident, arrogant or self-important way or attitude.
Synonyms: Style, cool, stroll, prance, pose, stride
Year: 1599 / 1596
Play: Henry V, Act II, Scene iv / A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act III, Scene I
Spoken English Online Word #2: Arch-villain
Meaning: A villain is a character with evil motives, whose evil actions are important to the plot. An arch-villain is an extreme villain, the master of all evil characters. (The Joker in Batman, Voldemort in Harry Potter, Professor Zoom in Flash)
Play: Timon of Athens, Act V, Scene 1
Spoken English Online Word #3: Eventful
Meaning: Marked by interesting or exciting events, one after another.
Synonyms: Lively, full, active, action-packed
Play: As You Like It, Act II, Scene Vii.
Spoken English Online Word #4: Fashionable
Meaning: Influenced by or representing the current style.
Synonyms: Stylish, modern, trendy, popular
Play: Troilus And Cressida, Act III, Scene iii.
Spoken English Online Word #5: Rant
Meaning: To talk loudly and fast in an impassioned way that is unreasonable or unclear, usually expressing anger or disappointment
Synonyms: Go on and on, shout, yell
Play: Hamlet, Act V, Scene i