Welcome to EUROCENTRES blog

8 Words that Were Invented by Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is probably the most famous writer ever to have lived – and certainly the most famous playwright to have written in the English language. He’s famous for telling the stories of Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, MacBeth, King Lear and many others.

He’s also famous for inventing lots of new words in the English language. 1700, in fact! He did this by changing nouns into verbs, verbs into adjectives, joining together words that hadn’t been used together before, adding suffixes and prefixes to existing words, and even creating completely new words from scratch.

Here are eight common words that Shakespeare invented.

 

  • Addiction

 

First used in: Othello, Act II, Scene II


An addiction is when your body or brain develops a strong need for a certain substance or chemical, to the point where it starts to take over your life or you don’t feel like you can cope without it. For example, some people become addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, certain types of drugs or even coffee.  

 

  • Cold-Blooded

 

First used in: King John, Act III, Scene I

To do something in cold blood means that you are not angry or upset when you are doing it. It’s used to describe actions that seem scarier because the person is calm at the time. For example, a cold-blooded killer is someone who plans to murder someone (and does it) rather than someone who kills a person during a fight or argument.

 

  • Bedazzled

 

First used in: The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, Scene V

If you are bedazzled by someone or something, it means you are so amazed or impressed by them that you can hardly see clearly – it’s like you are looking at bright lights or diamonds.

 

  • Belongings

 

First used in: Measure for Measure, Act I, Scene I

Belongings are things that belong to you – as in, things that are yours.  The verb belong existed before Shakespeare, but he created the new noun belongings.

 

  • Eventful

 

First used in: As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII

If you describe something as eventful it means lots of things happened. Often people use it as a polite way to say that something was very stressful or dramatic. For example:

“How was your sister’s wedding?”

“Eventful. My uncles got into a fight and my grandmother passed out on the wedding cake.”

 

  • Assassination

 

First used in: Macbeth, Act I, Scene VII

An assassination is a murder that is planned in advance. Usually it refers to the murder of a politician or other public figure killed for political reasons. For example, the assassination of JFK.

 

  • Scuffle

 

First used in:  Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, Scene I

A scuffle is a small fight where no one is seriously hurt. Shakespeare didn’t actually invent the word, as it was already used as a verb. However, he was the first person to use it as a noun.

 

  • Uncomfortable

 

First used in: Romeo and Juliet, Act IV, Scene V

This is an example of many words that Shakespeare created by adding the prefix un- to a word that already existed. Uncomfortable just means “not comfortable”. You can use it to mean that something is physically uncomfortable, for example, “This bed is very uncomfortable”, or to describe a situation that makes you feel awkward. For example, “Dad keeps trying to talk to me about his relationship problems and it makes me uncomfortable”.

Feeling inspired? Take your English vocabulary to the next level – take a look at our range of courses at www.Eurocentres.com