Culture

The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare 

Carly Kiel
Originally by
Updated June 14, 2019 7.1k votes 564 voters 18.9k views 53 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
Swagger is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Swagger
Act III Scene I - A Midsummer Night's Dream
4
Cold-Blooded is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Cold-Blooded
Act III Scene I - King John
5
Articulate is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Articulate
Act I Scene IX - Coriolanus
6
Gloomy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Gloomy
Act V Scene IV - King Henry VI, Part I
7
Sanctimonious is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Sanctimonious
Act IV Scene I - The Tempest
8
Obscene is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Obscene
Act I Scene I - Love's Labour's Lost
9
Savagery is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Savagery
Act IV Scene III - King John
10
Amazement is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Amazement
Act V Scene I - King John
11
Moonbeam is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Moonbeam
Act III Scene I - A Midsummer Night's Dream
12
Lonely is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Lonely
Act IV Scene I - Coriolanus
13
Lustrous is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Lustrous
Act IV Scene II - Twelfth Night
14
Champion is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Champion
Act III Scene I - Macbeth
15
Gossip is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Gossip
Act V Scene I - The Comedy of Errors
16
Lackluster is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Lackluster
Act III Scene IV - As You Like It
17
Gnarled is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Gnarled
Act II Scene II - Measure for Measure
18
Jaded is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Jaded
Act IV Scene I - King Henry VI, Part II
19
Torture is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Torture
Act II Scene I - King Henry VI, Part II
20
Radiance is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Radiance
Act I Scene I - All's Well That Ends Well
21
Dauntless is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Dauntless
Act III Scene III - King Henry VI, Part III
22
Auspicious is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Auspicious
Act I Scene II - Hamlet
23
Unreal is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Unreal
Act III Scene IV - Macbeth
24
Rant is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Words Invented by Shakespeare
Rant
Act V Scene I - Hamlet
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