Shakespeare’s Linguistic Legacy: Exploring His Invented Words and Impact on the English Language


The Enduring Impact of Shakespeare's Invented Words

Shakespeare's Linguistic Innovation:

Revolutionizing Language Through Creativity

In the vast tapestry of literary history, William Shakespeare stands as a towering figure who not only shaped the realms of drama and poetry but also made an indelible mark on the English language itself. Beyond his memorable characters and captivating plots, Shakespeare's inventive spirit led to the creation of approximately 1700 words that continue to enrich and enliven our communication today. His linguistic innovations stand as a testament to his mastery over language and his profound impact on the evolution of English. In this article, we embark on a journey through the world of Shakespeare's invented words, exploring their origins, usage, and lasting influence.

Examples of Shakespeare's Invented Words:

1. "Assassination"

Pronunciation: uh-sas-uh-NEY-shuhn Origin: Derived from "assassin" Play: Macbeth Context: In Act I, Scene vii of Macbeth, Shakespeare introduces the word "assassination" as Macbeth contemplates the treacherous path ahead, highlighting the moral dilemma and the consequences of regicide.

2. "Eyeball"

Pronunciation: AY-bawl Origin: A combination of "eye" and "ball" Play: The Tempest Context: In Act I, Scene ii of The Tempest, Prospero instructs Ariel to "bring the eyeball hither," employing a vivid and mysterious term to emphasize the sorcerer's command over magical visions.

3. "Fashionable"

Pronunciation: FASH-uh-nuh-buhl Origin: Derived from "fashion" Play: Troilus and Cressida Context: Found in Act III, Scene iii of Troilus and Cressida, the word "fashionable" captures the transient nature of trends and social dynamics, reflecting Shakespeare's commentary on the fickleness of human behavior.

4. "Swagger"

Pronunciation: SWA-guhr Origin: Derived from "swag" (bold self-confidence) Play: Henry V Context: Shakespeare employs the word "swagger" in Act II, Scene iv of Henry V to depict the charismatic and confident demeanor of King Henry as he inspires his troops before battle.

5. "Majestic"

Pronunciation: muh-JES-tik Origin: Derived from "majesty" Play: Love's Labour's Lost Context: The word "majestic" appears in Act IV, Scene iii of Love's Labour's Lost, describing the grandeur and splendor of a royal procession, evoking a sense of awe and admiration.

6. "Puking"

Pronunciation: PYOO-king Origin: Derived from "puke" (to vomit) Play: As You Like It Context: In Act II, Scene vii of As You Like It, Shakespeare uses the word "puking" with a touch of comic exaggeration to describe an unappealing situation or character, adding humor to the scene.

7. "Inaudible"

Pronunciation: in-AW-duh-buhl Origin: Derived from "audible" Play: All's Well That Ends Well Context: Found in Act V, Scene iii of All's Well That Ends Well, "inaudible" conveys the inability to hear, emphasizing the importance of effective communication in the dialogue.

8. "Bedazzled"

Pronunciation: bih-DAZ-uhld Origin: Derived from "dazzle" Play: The Taming of the Shrew Context: In Act IV, Scene v of The Taming of the Shrew, the word "bedazzled" captures the enchantment and allure of a captivating spectacle, conveying the mesmerizing effect it has on the characters.

9. "Gossip"

Pronunciation: GAH-sip Origin: Possibly derived from "godsib" (godparent) Play: Much Ado About Nothing Context: Used in Act III, Scene iii of Much Ado About Nothing, "gossip" refers to the lighthearted exchange of rumors and idle talk among the characters, revealing the role of gossip in social interactions.

10. "Sanctimonious"

Pronunciation: sangk-tuh-MOH-nee-uhs Origin: Derived from "sanctimony" Play: Measure for Measure Context: Shakespeare employs the word "sanctimonious" in Act II, Scene ii of Measure for Measure to describe the hypocritical moralizing of a character, highlighting the contrast between outward piety and true virtue.


Shakespeare's Linguistic Tapestry Woven Into Modern English

Shakespeare's impact on the English language extends far beyond his invented words. His rich and evocative language, nuanced expressions, and profound insights into human nature have permeated the fabric of modern English. Phrases such as "wild goose chase," "foregone conclusion," and "heart of gold" are just a few examples of the linguistic gems that originated from Shakespeare's works. His command of language, wit, and ability to capture the complexities of the human experience continue to inspire writers, poets, and enthusiasts worldwide.


Celebrating Shakespeare's Linguistic Ingenuity and Lasting Impact

William Shakespeare's contribution to the English language through his invented words is a testament to his genius and literary prowess. From the depths of tragedy to the heights of comedy, his plays served as fertile ground for linguistic innovation. By crafting new words that resonated with audiences, he expanded the boundaries of expression and imbued the English language with vitality and depth. Today, as we explore the rich tapestry of Shakespeare's words, we celebrate his linguistic ingenuity and the lasting impact he has left on the language we speak and cherish.


Azmi Jemai, Digital Marketing Intern

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