When to the sessions of sweet silent thought I summon up remembrance of things past, I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought, And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste; Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow.
From When to the sessions of sweet silent thought (Sonnet 30) W. Shakespeare
William Shakespeare

Whether being dyslexic has made me more interested in words than a non-dyslexic I can’t answer, but the one thing I do know for sure is I’ve always been fascinated in where words come from originally and their history within our British language.

Like all languages, ours is a living thing that has changed over the centuries, and is still evolving as we come in contact with different cultures, and as new technologies bring with them their own words too.

During the Elizabethan era, one man added 1700 new words to our language and these words were coined by him. In total, he introduced about 17000 English words through his plays and writing. William Shakespeare was born in 1564 during the reign of Elizabeth the first, but most of his more popular plays were written after her death, so in reality he was a Jacobean writer.

From Pixabay

By the end of the medieval period  Old English, once known as Anglo Saxon and was spoken in areas of Southern Scotland and England between 5th and the 12th century was seen as the bases for the modern English language we speak today.  We now address the so-called Elizabethan or Shakespearean era as Early Modern English even though to our ears it would be hard to understand the spoken and written words.

What Mr Shakespeare did was change a verb into adjective or nouns into verbs by adding prefixes and suffixes to coin a whole new word, and connect words that were never used in combination earlier. It would have been interesting to know whether his audience were confused by him doing this, or whether his actors questioned his usage of these new words.

From Pixabay

Here are some of the words invented by Shakespeare:

 Accommodation : amazement : assassination : barefaced:

Baseless : to bedazzle : belongings: to besmirch : cold-blooded :

Coldhearted : countless: courtship : dawn (as a noun) : day’s work

deaths-head : to dishearten: to dislocate: distasteful (Shakespeare meant ‘showing disgust’): distrustful: eyewink: fair-faced: fairyland: fanged : footfall: foppish

foregone: fortune-teller: foul mouthed : hint (as a noun): hobnail (as a noun)

homely (sense ‘ugly’): honey-tongued: hornbook (an ‘alphabet tablet’)

hostile: hot-blooded: lacklustre: ladybird: lament: land-rat: to lapse: laughable:

loggerhead (Shakespeare meant ‘blockhead’) : lonely (Shakespeare meant ‘lone’)

long-legged: love letter: lustihood : monumental: moonbeam: mortifying (as an adjective): motionless: mountaineer (Shakespeare meant as ‘mountain-dweller’): to muddy:

pale-faced: to pander : please-man (a ‘yes-man’) : plumpy (‘plump’) : published: (Shakespeare meant ‘commonly recognized’) :to puke : on purpose: quarrelsome: in question:

vulnerable: watchdog: water drop: water fly: well-behaved: well-bred: well-educated: well-read.

Yes, very surprising to see how many are recognisable to us and we have used them daily. Now for some notable phrases from some of Shakespeare’s plays that you may have used yourself at some point.

“All that glitters is not gold” Macbeth

“Break the Ice”     The Taming of the Shrew

“A Brave New World” The Tempest

“In my hearts ” Hamlet

“Jealousy is a green-eyed monster” Othello

“The world is my oyster” The Merry Wives of Windsor

“Bated  breath” The Merchant of Venice

“A dish fit for the Gods ”  Julius Caesar

“He hath eaten me out of the house and home” Henry IV Part 2

“Laid on with a trowel” As You Like It

16 Comments

  1. Fascinating!! Thank you for your research and for sharing this interesting information. It’s much appreciated by this person who, to this day, is still flummoxed by the English language 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow! Thats wonderful, and i never had thought the British language at least is the Shakespearean language. 😉 Thank you for the enlightenment. Now i know how important it is to know more about Shakespeare’s work. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad my post enlightened you. The English language is made of words from around the world as travelers to all parts of the world brought new words from other cultures back with them. If you were to travel to the North of England and listen to the local dialect you would be listening to as close as you can get in our modern world Old English. Thank you for dropping by and reading my post

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thats fantastic to hear. I am just trying to find back to the Enlish language, and sometimes i can bond on Latin and Greek, and some Italian. All only parts, but it shows the origin. Thank you very much, Paula! Very great information, i will for sure keep in mind, and which brings my closer to Shakespeare too. 😉 Have a nice day! Michael

        Liked by 1 person

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