When Shakespeare committed word crimes
Shakespeare coined new words when he needed — or merely wanted — them. Can you guess which words were invented by the Bard?
English heading into the sixteenth century was a makeshift, cobbled-together thing. No fewer than eight conquering peoples had added to our vocabulary and shaped our syntax. But the Brits were doing more than just borrowing, swiping and outright stealing words from other languages. Versifiers like Chaucer let newfangled words from the street amble onto the literary stage – newfangled and amble being two of them.
By the time Elizabethan dramatists sought expression for ever-more sophisticated sentiments, crowds cheered their linguistic daring.
A short list of verbs invented by the Bard:
Shakespeare also minted new metaphors, many now cliches, but fresh in his time:
it’s Greek to me
played fast and loose
slept not one wink
seen better days
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