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The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare  

Carly Kiel
Originally by
3.9k votes 347 voters 14k views 63 items

List Rules Vote up your fave words that were first coined by Wm. Shakespeare

In addition to 36 plays teenagers are forced to read in high school, William Shakespeare also wrote something like 1,700 English words for the very first time. While many were new verb or adjectival forms or even just compound words he squished together, others, like "articulate," were brand new inventions The Bard pulled from Latin roots and also sometimes out of nowhere. This list of words Shakespeare invented includes some personal favorites, like "swagger" and "gloomy," and also some words that just sound great, like "sanctimonious," "lackluster," "madcap," and "blanket." Who doesn't love a good blanket?

Shakespeare worked in a time when the English language was in a state of flux, constantly changing and expanding in the wake of colonization, exploration, and war. Linguists estimate that more than 30,000 new words developed in the English language between the years 1500 and 1650. During his lifetime (1564-1616), Shakespeare published a cool 17,677 unique words, 1,700 of which he coined himself. He also invented a bunch of phrases that are still popular today, including "kill with kindness," "break the ice," and "good riddance." Another is "Knock knock! Who's there?" No joke, that is in Hamlet. (Another is "hoist with his own petard," which nobody really says anymore.)

What's your favorite word made up by Shakespeare? Something majestic, like "majestic"? Something fun to say, like "obsequiously"? Maybe something that otherwise wouldn't have a name at all, like "elbow"? It would have been nice if he also named the inside part of the elbow ("inbow," hello) and the back part of the knee. Thanks for nothing, Shakespeare. Vote!

list ordered by
1
Majestic is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Majestic
Act I Scene II - Julius Caesar
2
Tranquil is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Tranquil
Act III Scene III - Othello
3
Cold-Blooded is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Cold-Blooded
Act III Scene I - King John
4
Articulate is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Articulate
Act I Scene IX - Coriolanus
5
Obscene is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Obscene
Act I Scene I - Love's Labour's Lost
6
Swagger is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Swagger
Act III Scene I - A Midsummer Night's Dream
7
Champion is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Champion
Act III Scene I - Macbeth
8
Savagery is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Savagery
Act IV Scene III - King John
9
Lustrous is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Lustrous
Act IV Scene II - Twelfth Night
10
Gloomy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Gloomy
Act V Scene IV - King Henry VI, Part I
11
Radiance is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Radiance
Act I Scene I - All's Well That Ends Well
12
Gossip is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Gossip
Act V Scene I - The Comedy of Errors
13
Dauntless is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Dauntless
Act III Scene III - King Henry VI, Part III
14
Amazement is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Amazement
Act V Scene I - King John
15
Rant is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Rant
Act V Scene I - Hamlet
16
Unreal is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Unreal
Act III Scene IV - Macbeth
17
Sanctimonious is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Sanctimonious
Act IV Scene I - The Tempest
18
Lonely is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Lonely
Act IV Scene I - Coriolanus
19
Lackluster is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Lackluster
Act III Scene IV - As You Like It
20
Gnarled is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Gnarled
Act II Scene II - Measure for Measure
21
Jaded is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Jaded
Act IV Scene I - King Henry VI, Part II
22
Torture is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Torture
Act II Scene I - King Henry VI, Part II
23
Moonbeam is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Moonbeam
Act III Scene I - A Midsummer Night's Dream
24
Gust is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Gust
Act V Scene III - Titus Andronicus
25
Arouse is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Arouse
Act IV Scene I - King Henry VI, Part II