Talk Like Shakespeare

April 11th, 2017   •   Comments Off on Talk Like Shakespeare   

The twenty-third of April bring your rhymes—
It’s William Shakespeare’s birthday. Party time!
Try talking like the Bard once wrote his plays,
This site will give you tips on what to say.

The Q Brothers’ Hip-hop Birthday Anthem

Common and Uncommon Words Coined by Shakespeare

POLONIUS: What do you read, my lord?
HAMLET: Words, words, words.
HAMLET Act 2, scene 2, 191-192

It’s always impossible to know who first coined a word-and not much easier to know who first wrote it down. But here’s a partial list of the words for which Shakespeare is the first authority the Oxford English Dictionary could find. Some words predate the first citation in the OED, even in its second edition. In a few cases, Shakespeare was the first to have used the word in at least one of its modern senses; these words are marked with an asterisk (*). All verbs are in the infinitive form-that is, the “to” form (“to belly,” “to overstink,” etc.). Where there might otherwise be confusion over the part of speech, I have spelled it out.

  • abstemious
  • Academe
  • accessible
  • accommodation (a variation of “accommodations”)
  • addiction (Shakespeare meant “tendency”)
  • admirable (earlier than OED)
  • aerial (Shakespeare meant “of the air”)
  • airless
  • amazement
  • anchovy
  • arch-villain
  • assassination
  • auspicious
  • bachelorship (“bachelorhood”)
  • barefaced
  • baseless
  • basta! (first use in English)
  • batty (Shakespeare meant “bat-like”)
  • beachy (“beach-covered”)
  • bedroom (Shakespeare meant “room in bed”)
  • belongings
  • birthplace
  • black-faced
  • bloodstained
  • bloodsucking
  • blusterer
  • bodikins (“little bodies”)
  • boggler (“slow-poke”; “stickler”)
  • bold-faced
  • bottled (Shakespeare meant “bottle-shaped”)
  • braggartism
  • brisky
  • broomstaff (“broom-handle”)
  • budger (“one who budges”)
  • bullyrook (“pal”)
  • bum-bailie (term of contempt for a bailiff)
  • bump (as a noun)
  • buzzer (Shakespeare meant “tattle-tale”)
  • candle holder
  • catlike
  • characterless
  • * cheap (in the pejorative sense: “flimsy,” “vulgar”)
  • cheese-paring
  • chimney-top
  • choppy (Shakespeare meant “chapped”)
  • churchlike
  • circumstantial
  • clodpoll (“blockhead”)
  • cloyment
  • clyster pipe (“enema tube”)
  • cold-blooded
  • coldhearted
  • compact (the noun: “agreement”)
  • consanguineous
  • control (the noun)
  • coppernose (“a kind of acne”)
  • countless
  • courtship
  • critical
  • cross-gartered
  • cruelhearted
  • Dalmatian (earlier than OED)
  • dauntless
  • dawn (the noun)
  • day’s work
  • death’s-head
  • defeat (the noun)
  • depositary (“trustee”)
  • dewdrop
  • dexterously (Shakespeare spelled it “dexteriously”)
  • disgraceful (Shakespeare meant “unbecoming”)
  • distasteful (Shakespeare meant “showing disgust”)
  • distracted (Shakespeare meant “crazed”)
  • distrustful
  • dog-weary
  • doit (a Dutch coin: “a pittance”) [earlier than OED)
  • domineering
  • downstairs
  • drollery
  • droplet
  • dry-nurse
  • duteous
  • East Indies
  • embrace (the noun)
  • employer
  • employment
  • enfranchisement (Shakespeare didn’t have voting rights in mind)
  • engagement (earlier than OED)
  • enrapt
  • epileptic
  • equivocal
  • eventful
  • excitement (Shakespeare meant “incitement”)
  • expedience
  • expertness
  • exposure
  • exsufflicate (“puffed up”)
  • eyeball
  • eyebeam
  • eyedrop (Shakespeare meant “tear”)
  • eyewink
  • fair-faced
  • fairyland
  • fanged
  • fantastico (“someone prone to fantasies”)
  • fap (“intoxicated”)
  • far-off
  • farmhouse
  • fashionable
  • fashionmonger (earlier than OED)
  • fat-witted
  • fathomless (Shakespeare meant “too huge to be encircled by one’s arms”)
  • featureless (Shakespeare meant “ugly”)
  • fiendlike
  • fitful
  • fixture (Shakespeare meant “fixing” or “setting firmly in place”)
  • flapdragon (a raisin soaked in brandy and set aflame)
  • fleer (as a noun: “sneer”)
  • fleshment (“the excitement of a first success”)
  • flirt-gill (a “floozy”)
  • * flowery (as we use it to mean “full of florid expressions”)
  • fly-bitten
  • foot landraker (“footpad”)
  • footfall
  • foppish
  • foregone
  • fortune-teller
  • foster-nurse
  • foul-mouthed
  • fount
  • Franciscan
  • freezing (as an adjective)
  • fretful
  • frugal
  • fubbed off (“fobbed off”)
  • full-grown (earlier than OED)
  • fullhearted
  • futurity
  • gallantry (Shakespeare meant “gallant people”)
  • garden house
  • generous (Shakespeare meant “gentle,” “noble,” “fair”)
  • gentlefolk
  • glow (as a noun)
  • go-between
  • grass plot
  • gravel-blind (“almost stone-blind”)
  • gray-eyed
  • green-eyed
  • grief-shot (“sorrow-stricken”)
  • grime (as a noun
  • * gust (as “a wind-blast”)
  • half-blooded
  • heartsore
  • hedge-pig
  • hell-born
  • hint (the noun)
  • hobnail (the noun)
  • hodge-pudding (“a pudding of various ingredients”)
  • * homely (in the sense of ugly”)
  • honey-tongued
  • hornbook (“alphabet tablet”)
  • hostile
  • hot-blooded
  • howl (the noun)
  • hunchbacked [“bunch-back’d” in earliest edition]
  • hurly (“commotion”)
  • idle-headed
  • ill-tempered
  • ill-used
  • impartial
  • implorator (“solicitor”)
  • import (the noun: “importance,” “significance”)
  • in question (as in “the___ in question”)
  • inaudible
  • inauspicious
  • indirection
  • indistinguishable
  • inducement
  • informal (Shakespeare seems to have meant “unformed” or “irresolute”)
  • inventorially (“in detail”)
  • investment (Shakespeare meant “a piece of clothing”)
  • invitation
  • invulnerable
  • jaded (Shakespeare seems to have meant “contemptible”)
  • juiced (“juicy”)
  • keech (“solidified fat”)
  • kickie-wickie (derogatory term for a wife)
  • kitchen-wench
  • lackluster
  • ladybird
  • lament
  • land-rat
  • laughable
  • leaky
  • leapfrog
  • lewdster
  • loggerhead (Shakespeare meant “blockhead”)
  • lonely (Shakespeare meant “lone”)
  • long-legged
  • love letter
  • lustihood
  • lustrous
  • madcap (as an adjective)
  • madwoman (earlier than OED)
  • majestic
  • malignancy (Shakespeare meant “malign tendency”)
  • manager
  • marketable
  • marriage bed
  • marybud (“bud of a marigold”)
  • mewling (“whining, whimpering”)
  • militarist (Shakespeare meant “soldier”)
  • mimic (the noun)
  • misgiving (the noun: “uneasiness”)
  • mockable (“deserving ridicule”)
  • money’s worth [“money-worth” dates from the fourteenth century]
  • monumental
  • moonbeam
  • mortifying (the adjective)
  • motionless
  • mountaineer (Shakespeare meant “mountain-dweller”)
  • multipotent (“most-mighty”)
  • multitudinous
  • mutineer
  • nayword (“byword”)
  • neglect (the noun)
  • never-ending (earlier than OED)
  • newsmonger
  • nimble-footed
  • noiseless
  • nonregardance (“disregard”)
  • nook-shotten (“full of corners or angles”)
  • obscene (Shakespeare meant “revolting”)
  • ode
  • offenseful (“sinful”)
  • Olympian (Shakespeare meant “Olympic”)
  • on purpose
  • oppugnancy (“antagonism”)
  • outbreak
  • overblown (Shakespeare meant “blown over”)
  • overcredulous
  • overgrowth
  • overview (as a noun: Shakespeare meant “supervision”)
  • pageantry
  • pale-faced
  • passado (a kind of sword-thrust)
  • paternal
  • pauser (“one who hesitates”)
  • pebbled (“pebbly”)
  • pedant (Shakespeare was referring to a schoolmaster)
  • pedantical
  • pendulous (Shakespeare meant “hanging over”)
  • perusal
  • pignut (a sort of tuber)
  • pious
  • please-man (“yes-man” or “parasite”)
  • plumpy (“plump”)
  • posture (Shakespeare seems to have meant something like “position” or “positioning”) [earlier than OED)
  • pouncet-box (“small box of perfumes”)
  • prayerbook (earlier than OED)
  • priceless
  • profitless
  • Promethean
  • protester (Shakespeare meant “one who affirms”)
  • published (Shakespeare meant “commonly recognized”)
  • puh! (an interjection signifying disgust and/or condescension)
  • puppy-dog
  • pushpin (Shakespeare was referring to a children’s game)
  • quarrelsome
  • radiance
  • rascally (earlier than OED)
  • rawboned (“very gaunt”)
  • razorable (“fit to be shaved”)
  • reclusive
  • refractory
  • reinforcement (Shakespeare meant “renewed force”)
  • reliance
  • remorseless
  • reprieve (the noun)
  • restoration (earlier than OED)
  • * restraint (as “reserve”)
  • retirement
  • revokement (“revocation”)
  • revolting (Shakespeare meant “rebellious”) [earlier than OED)
  • ring carrier (“go-between”)
  • ring-time (“time for exchanging rings”)
  • roadway
  • roguery
  • rose-cheeked
  • rose-lipped
  • rug-headed (“shock-headed”)
  • rumination
  • ruttish
  • satisfying (as an adjective)
  • * savage (as “uncivilized”)
  • savagery
  • schoolboy
  • scrimer (“a fencer”)
  • scroyle (“wretch”)
  • scrubbed (Shakespeare meant “stunted”
  • scuffle
  • seamy (“seamed”) and seamy side)
  • self-abuse (Shakespeare meant “self-deception”)
  • semblative (“resembling”)
  • shipwrecked (Shakespeare spelled it “ship-wrackt”)
  • shooting star
  • shudder (the noun)
  • silk stocking
  • silliness
  • skim milk [in quartos; “skim’d milk” in the Folio]
  • skimble-skamble (“senseless”)
  • slugabed
  • sneap (“snub”- as a noun and as a verb)
  • soft-hearted
  • spectacled
  • spilth (“something spilled”)
  • spleenful
  • sportive
  • stealthy
  • stillborn
  • successful
  • suffocating (the adjective)
  • superscript (Shakespeare meant “address written on a letter”)
  • superserviceable (“more serviceable than is necessary”)
  • tanling (“someone with a tan”)
  • tardiness
  • time-honored
  • title page (earlier than OED)
  • to arouse
  • to barber
  • to bedabble
  • to bedazzle
  • to behowl
  • to belly (“to swell”)
  • to bemad
  • to bemonster
  • to besmirch
  • to bet
  • to bethump
  • to bewhore
  • to blanket
  • to cake
  • to canopy
  • to castigate
  • * to cater (as “to purvey food”)
  • to champion
  • to channel (Shakespeare meant “to form a channel”)
  • to comply
  • to compromise (Shakespeare meant “to agree”)
  • * to cow (as “to intimidate”)
  • to crank (Shakespeare meant “to reel about”-“to come cranking in” is his coinage)
  • to cudgel
  • to dapple
  • to denote
  • to deracinate
  • to discandy (“melt”)
  • to dishearten
  • to dislocate
  • to dwindle
  • to educate
  • to elbow
  • to enclog (“to hinder”)
  • to enmesh
  • to ensnare
  • to enthrone
  • to film (Shakespeare meant “to film over”)
  • to fishify (“turn into a fish”)
  • to forward (“to advance”)
  • to glutton
  • to gnarl
  • to gossip (Shakespeare meant “to make oneself at home like a gossip-that is, a kindred spirit or fast friend”)
  • to grovel
  • to hand (Shakespeare meant “to handle”)
  • to happy (“to gladden”)
  • to hinge
  • to humor
  • to hurry
  • to impede
  • to inhearse (“load into a hearse”)
  • to inlay
  • to instate (Shakespeare, who spelled it “enstate,” meant “to endow”)
  • to lapse
  • to lower (Shakespeare meant both “to frown, to threaten” and “to sink, to decline”)
  • to misquote
  • to muddy
  • to negotiate
  • to numb (earlier than OED)
  • to offcap (“to doff one’s cap”)
  • to operate
  • to out-Herod (“to outdo Herod in bluster”)
  • to out-talk
  • to out-villain
  • to outcrafty (“to excel in craft”: “outwit”)
  • to outdare
  • to outfrown
  • to outgrow
  • to outscold
  • to outsell (Shakespeare meant “to exceed in value”)
  • to outstare
  • to outswear
  • to outsweeten (“to be sweeter than”)
  • to outweigh
  • to over-red (“to redden over”)
  • to overbulk (“to surpass in bulk”)
  • to overpay
  • to overpower
  • to overrate
  • to overstink (“to stink more than”)
  • to palate (Shakespeare meant “to relish”)
  • to pander
  • to perplex
  • to petition
  • to puke
  • to rant
  • to reverb (“to re-echo”)
  • to reword (Shakespeare meant “re-echo” and “repeat”)
  • to rival (Shakespeare meant “to compete”)
  • to secure (Shakespeare meant “obtain security”)
  • to sire
  • to sneak
  • to squabble
  • to subcontract (Shakespeare meant “to remarry”)
  • to sully
  • to supervise (Shakespeare meant “to peruse”)
  • to swagger
  • to torture
  • to unbosom
  • to uncurl
  • to undervalue (Shakespeare meant “to judge as of lesser value”)
  • to undress
  • to unfool
  • to unhand (as in the phrase “unhand me!”)
  • to unhappy
  • to unmuzzle
  • to unsex
  • to widen (Shakespeare meant “to open wide”)
  • tortive (“twisting”)
  • traditional (Shakespeare meant “tradition-bound”)
  • tranquil
  • transcendence
  • trippingly
  • unaccommodated
  • unappeased
  • unchanging
  • unclaimed
  • * uncomfortable (in the sense “disquieting”)
  • unearthly
  • uneducated
  • unfrequented
  • ungoverned
  • ungrown
  • unhelpful
  • unhidden
  • unlicensed
  • unmitigated
  • unmusical
  • unpolluted
  • unpremeditated
  • unpublished (Shakespeare meant “undisclosed”)
  • unquestionable (Shakespeare meant “impatient”)
  • unquestioned
  • unreal
  • unrivaled
  • unscarred
  • unscratched
  • unsolicited
  • unsullied
  • unswayed (Shakespeare meant “unused” and “ungoverned”)
  • untutored
  • unvarnished
  • * unwillingness (in the sense “reluctance”)
  • upstairs
  • useful
  • useless
  • valueless
  • varied (as an adjective)
  • varletry
  • vasty
  • vulnerable
  • watchdog
  • water drop
  • water fly
  • well-behaved
  • well-bred
  • well-educated
  • well-read
  • wittolly (“contentedly a cuckold”)
  • worn out (Shakespeare meant “dearly departed”)
  • wry-necked (“crook-necked”)
  • yelping (as an adjective)
  • zany (a clown’s sidekick or a mocking mimic

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