Want to know all about the words Shakespeare invented? We’ve got you covered. In all of his works – the plays, the sonnets and the narrative poems – Shakespeare uses 17,677 different words.

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.

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

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… Shakespearean 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 Shakespeare invented 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.

Shakespeare words - scribbled words in black ink on a note pad showing words Shakespeare invented

Shakespeare words – see handwritten phrases and words Shakespeare invented

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.

What do you think of these Shakespeare words – any words Shakespeare invented you thik we should add? Let us know in the comments section below!

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 1 Breanne says:

    he also invented the word swagger!

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 2 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.

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 3 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.

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 4 Jeff says:

    Some of these words are really weird

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 6 Shake my spear says:

    Thou overwheening urchin-snouted scurvy-knave!

    • Words Shakespeare Invented 7 Alexander Fortier says:

      Half-cocked wet bellied winkled fushnik snide rat!

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 9 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 rua.ua.es/dspace/handle/…/browse?type…Gold%2C+David+L].

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 11 Robert says:

    I think the word road appears in Beowulf.

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 12 yolo says:

    i didnt know he made the word bloody…

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 13 Dave Crystal says:

    Isn’t Shakespeare a fascinating specimen of a man!

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 15 Ivan Orse says:

    Shakespeare made a lot of words iin middle englsih fromat

    • Words Shakespeare Invented 16 Zack Collins (I love you!) says:

      He also invented the name Jessica for the play The Merchant of Venice

  • Words Shakespeare Invented 17 Mats says:

    Very nice!