Five Commonly-Used Words Coined by Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare is arguably one of the most famous playwrights ever to exist. His plays have inspired the storylines of many well-known movies – for example, Disney’s “The Lion King” was inspired by “Hamlet”, “Romeo and Juliet” was the basis for “West Side Story”, and “10 Things I Hate About You” incorporated the plotline of “The Taming Of The Shrew”. However, one lesser-known aspect of Shakespeare’s career is his knack for inventing new words. Here is a list of five words we use today that Shakespeare coined centuries ago.

How many times has your love of chocolate been described as an ‘addiction’ by others? This handy little word was first used by Shakespeare in his tragedy “Othello”. It was first used during the second scene of the second act.
“…each man to what sport and revels his addiction leads him…”

It was in the famous ‘Scottish’ play “Macbeth” that Shakespeare, rather fittingly, brought about the first usage of ‘assassination’. This sinister term was first used during one of the eponymous Macbeth’s famous soliloquies, in scene seven of act one.
“…If the assassination/Could trammel up the consequence…”

Remember when everyone competed against one another to have the most ‘swagger’, usually shortened to ‘swag’? Well, if it hadn’t been for Shakespeare, they would have fought over something else. This term was used in two of his plays, “Henry V” (Act 2, Scene 4) and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (Act 3, Scene 1).
“An’t please your majesty, a rascal that swaggered with me last night.”
“What hempen home-spuns have we swaggering here, so near the cradle of the fairy queen?”

Next on the list isn’t so much a word as it is a phrase. How many times have you heard somebody say that ‘love is blind’, whether to you or to somebody else? This phrase was included in “The Merchant of Venice”, in scene six of act two.
“…But love is blind, and lovers cannot see/The pretty follies that themselves commit…”

Our fifth and final entry on this list is, again, a well-known phrase. Were you ever told that ‘the world is your oyster’? This common metaphor was first used in the second act of Shakespeare’s lesser-known “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, during scene two.
“Why, then the world’s mine oyster.”

The five words and phrases included here only scratch the surface of the new vocabulary which William Shakespeare coined during his career. There are many more examples to be found, but now you have new knowledge to share whenever you hear these terms used, if you choose to do so.




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