Nov 25, 2015

Etymology Expeditions: The Shakespeare Edition, Part 2

Did you know that Shakespeare actually invented a lot of  new words as he wrote his plays?

Words like gloomy, bandit, bedroom, bloodstained, hobnob, gossip, madcap, majestic, lacklustre, and zany appear on the list, according to

If you look up the words, there is usually some word he used as a basis, maybe coming up with an adjective from an existing noun or verb, turning nouns into verbs, and playing with prefixes and suffixes. Some words are fully original.

Gloomy, for example, is based on gloom, "to look sullen or displeased."

Lacklustre, on the other hand, came about when Shakespeare combined lack + lustre into a whole new word in "As You Like It." has a comprehensive list, so just click here to see more. All of the words are handily linked  to the play they appear in. Useful, huh?

But those are not Shakespeare's only legacy. Some of his most famous characters live on in the English language as well as his plays.

Consider words like Romeo "a lover, passionate seducer of women," or Falstaffian "fat, humorous, jovial," for example.

Not bad for a playwright from the 1600s.


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