William Shakespeare wasn’t just one of the greatest and most influential playwrights in history, he was also a mega wordsmith. Some estimates say the bard coined 1,700 words, many of which we use daily—like eyeball. Seriously. Eyeball.
Here’s a sample of words Shakespeare invented:
- addiction (Othello)
- bedazzled (The Taming of the Shrew)
- belongings (Measure for Measure)
- bloodstained (Titus Andronicus)
- cold-blooded (King John)
- eventful (As You Like It)
- eyeball (The Tempest)
- fashionable (Troilus and Cressida)
- jaded (King Henry VI)
- laughable (The Merchant of Venice)
- manager (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
- mimic (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
- moonbeam (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
- new-fangled (Love’s Labour’s Lost)
- obscene (Love’s Labour’s Lost)
- puking (As You Like It)
- scuffle (Antony and Cleopatra)
- swagger (Henry V)
- uncomfortable (Romeo and Juliet)
- zany (Love’s Labour’s Lost)
Shakespeare also coined many popular phrases. Here is a sample:
- all’s well that ends well (All’s Well that Ends Well)
- bated breath (The Merchant of Venice)
- be all and the end all (Macbeth)
- brave new world (The Tempest)
- break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew)
- fancy-free (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
- flaming youth (Hamlet)
- for goodness’ sake (Henry VIII)
- foregone conclusion (Othello)
- full circle (King Lear)
- good riddance (Troilus and Cressida)
- jealousy is the green-eyed monster (Othello)
- it was Greek to me (Julius Caesar)
- heart of gold (Henry V)
- in a pickle (The Tempest)
- in my heart of hearts (Hamlet)
- in my mind’s eye (Hamlet)
- kill with kindness (The Taming of the Shrew)
- laughing stock (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
- neither a borrower nor a lender be (Hamlet)
- neither rhyme nor reason (As You Like It)
- parting is such sweet sorrow (Romeo and Juliet)
- pomp and circumstance (Othello)
- salad days (Antony and Cleopatra)
- sea change (The Tempest)
- something wicked this way comes (Macbeth)
- to thine own self be true (Hamlet)
- too much of a good thing (As You Like It)
- wear my heart upon my sleeve (Othello)
Now goeth forward, dear readers, and speaketh awesome words. And if you can’t think of the right one, do like Shakespeare did and just make one up.
Erin Servais is the founder of Dot and Dash, LLC, an author-services company focusing on women writers and offering a range of editing, coaching, and social media packages.
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6 thoughts on “Words and Phrases Shakespeare Invented”
This inspires me. Thank you for creating this list!
In the words of Howard Walowitz ( Big Bang Theory) “Who knew?”
This is all dashderbald. It was Marlowe.
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