In all of his work – the plays, the sonnets and the narrative poems – Shakespeare uses 17,677 words: Of those words, Shakespeare invented an incredible 1,700 of them!

This list of words that we use in our daily speech were all brought into usage by Shakespeare:

      • accommodation
      • aerial
      • amazement
      • apostrophe
      • assassination
      • auspicious
      • baseless
      • bloody
      • bump
      • castigate
      • changeful
      • clangor
      • control (noun)
      • countless
      • courtship
      • critic
      • critical
      • dexterously
      • dishearten
      • dislocate
      • dwindle
      • eventful
      • exposure
      • fitful
      • frugal
      • generous
      • gloomy
      • gnarled
      • hurry
      • impartial
      • inauspicious
      • indistinguishable
      • invulnerable
      • lapse
      • laughable
      • lonely
      • majestic
      • misplaced
      • monumental
      • multitudinous
      • obscene
      • palmy
      • perusal
      • pious
      • premeditated
      • radiance
      • reliance
      • road
      • sanctimonious
      • seamy
      • sportive
      • submerge
      • suspicious

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32 replies
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  1. Suzanne Valkemirer
    Suzanne Valkemirer says:

    The unfounded claim “Of those words, Shakespeare invented an incredible 1,700 of them!” is based on the unfounded claim that if Shakespeare is given as the author of the earliest quotation for a lexeme or for a meaning in The Oxford English Dictionary, the passage quoted constitutes the first use of the lexeme or the meaning.

    This article will set you straight on the matter:

    Gold, David L. 2005. “An Aspect of Lexicography Still Not Fully Professionalized: The Search for Antedatings and Postdatings (With Examples Mostly from English and Some from Other Languages).” Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses. No. 18. November. Pp. 25-69 [the article is available on line, free of charge, at…/browse?type…Gold%2C+David+L].

  2. nancy
    nancy says:

    Some of my favorites are scallywag, leapfrog, balderdash. If a word, phrase or pun sounds quirky, odd and literary, its origins are probably with Shakespeare. And yes, I do believe Shakespeare the man existed as a real man, actor, manager and grain merchant in Stratford, not as a pseudonym for a wealthy nobleman. Genius has been found in the most unusual and unpredictable places. Just look at the life on John Harrison the cabinet maker who solved the longitude problem.

  3. So-and-So
    So-and-So says:

    This really helps with my English HW, thank you for this! But I can’t really believe that he invented generous or road as these were words used long before him.

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