MASTER LIST OF WORDS INVENTED BY SHAKESPEARE
This page will eventually contain a complete list of words determined to have been created by Shakespeare, or not, − or maybe. Detailed information for individual words can be found on pages dedicated to words beginning with individual letters.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Here is what you will find on the pages of each letter:
A. Class 1 Words:
- Words, compound-words and phrases currently attributable to Shakespeare.
Tables of words, compound-words, and phrases that, as of the date of this research, were probably invented (or coined) by Shakespeare. Or at least, there is no yet known evidence to the contrary. Information is provided on which works the terms appeared in, the frequency of their use, etc.
- Words, compound-words and phrases WRONGLY attributed to Shakespeare.
Tables of words attributed to Shakespeare by the OED, but for which prior evidence of the words’ usage has been found, and thus must be rejected as Shakespeare originals. For each such word, a citation has been included, including the quote or word in context, as well as the title and author of the work from which the citation was taken, so that you may see for yourself how the word was previously used.
- Words, compound-words and phrases that Shakespeare may or may not have used first (“Close-Calls”).
These are the words, compound-words and phrases that appeared in print first in other authors’ works, but Shakespeare may have still been the first to use. The reason for this is that most of Shakespeare’s plays were written and performed many years before they were published.
For example, the earliest appearance in print of the word admiringly was in a 1606 book written by one E. Forset, entitled Comparative Discourse Bodies Nat. & Politique. The next appearance was in Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, which was not published until it was included in the first folio of 1623.
But – All’s Well That Ends Well is believed to have been written in 1603-4; which means that Shakespeare may have written down the word admiringly before anyone else did, and could receive credit for being the originator of the word.
This of course is an intellectual exercise; you the reader can decide whether you want to count such words as possible Shakespeare originals, or if you instead prefer to go by a stricter “where was it published first” test. All the evidence for both sides is presented for you to examine.
B. Class 2 Words: Words which existed already, but which Shakespeare used for first time in a different part of speech.
C. Class 3 Words: Words which existed already, which Shakespeare used with the same part of speech, but with a wholly original sense.
For both of these classes, tables are presented which list, along with supporting evidence, those Class 2 and 3 words which can be currently attributable to Shakespeare, those that must be rejected as Shakespeare-originals because evidence of antedating has been found, and those which fall under the category of “Close-Calls”, those which appeared in print first in other authors’ work, but which Shakespeare may written down earlier in a script of a play that was written earlier, but not published until after, a competitor’s work.
Please remember this is a work in progress, begun in December 2018; the goal will be to have the world’s most accurate list of words invented by Shakespeare by the end of 2019.
THE MASTER LIST
If a word has an entry identified with it, that means the word exists in two distinct entries, or on two separate pages, in the OED, and count as two different words with distinct etymologies. (for example, the word alligator was originally used to refer to a binder, and is a completely separate word from the later word alligator which was used to identify the reptile) In these cases, we will identify which versionof the word Shakespeare is identified.
I. Class 1 Words.
Words actually invented by Shakespeare, ie. words never before appearing in English writing prior to their appearance in the works of Shakespeare:
affectioned (entry adj.2, meaning “full of affectation”)
alligator (entry n.2, meaning the reptile)
note of admiration
all for one and one for all
to live long on the alms-basket
of great article