How Many Words Did Shakespeare Invent?
Across all of his written works, it’s estimated that words invented by Shakespeare number as many as 1,700. We say these are words invented by Shakespeare , though in reality many of these 1,700 words would likely have been in common use during the Elizabethan and Jacobean era, just not written down prior to Shakespeare using them in his plays, sonnets and poems. In these cases Shakespeare would have been the first known person to document these words in writing. Historian Jonathan Hope also points out that Victorian scholars who read texts for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary read Shakespeare’s texts more thoroughly than most, and cited him more often, meaning Shakespeare is often credited with the first use of words which can be found in other writers.
Examples Of Commonly Used Words Shakespeare Created
It is Shakespeare who is credited with creating the below list of words that we still use in our daily speech – some of them frequently.
Along with these everyday words invented by Shakespeare, he also created a number of words in his plays that never quite caught on in the same way… words like ‘Armgaunt’, ‘Eftes’, ‘Impeticos’, ‘Insisture’, ‘Pajock’, ‘Pioned’ ‘Ribaudred’ and ‘Wappened’. We do have some ideas as to what these words may mean, though much is guesswork. Watch the video below for more insight into words created by Shakespeare that have been lost in the mists of time:
And it wasn’t just words that Shakespeare created, documented or brought into common usage – he also put words together and created a host of new phrases. Read all about the phrases that Shakespeare invented here.
Seen enough words Shakespeare invented? Why not see them in action by reading our pick of the very best Shakespeare quotes (including the classic to be or not to be), or reading quotes by play, including Macbeth quotes, Romeo & Juliet quotes, Julius Caesar quotes and Hamlet quotes. Or perhaps you’re more of a romantic soul, and would like to read Shakespeare’s very best love quotes.