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New Words by Shakespeare


William Shakespeare

The English Language as we have come to know it, has changed over the centuries, and we owe a debt of gratitude to one man who was responsible in his lifetime, for many of these words; William Shakespeare.  He created some 1700 words, some new other’s changed to create a new word, by changing Nouns into Verbs and Verbs into Adjectives, adding prefixes and suffixes.

Most common words created by him and used in his plays:

Showing signs of future success, favourable.

Not based on fact, no foundation.

Obvious, shameless, without concealment or disguise.

To find fault, reprimand, punish.

Loud continuous clanging sound.

Skilled in use of hands, mental quickness.

Reduce in size, reduce in strength, reduce in savings.

Large number of people or things.

Pretending to be religious and virtuous.

A dog kept to guard property, a person or group that acts as a guard, watching for illegal activity.


Phrases for use in plays which are still used to this day:

  • It’s Greek to me: (Julius Ceasar) You are informing the person you do not understand something.
  • Fair Play: (The Tempest) Usually stated in response to sporting

games or in competitions.

  • In a pickle: (The Tempest) You are in trouble or in a situation, you can not easily remove yourself from.
  • All that glitters isn’t gold: (Merchant of Venice) We discover that something which looks good, turns out not to be as good as it looks.
  • Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve: (Othello) To be open and

honest about your feelings.

  • Break the ice: (The Taming of the Shrew)  When you first meet somebody you ask simple questions to break the bond of silence between two strangers.
  • The lady doth protest too much: (Hamlet)  If one protests about something incessantly, they feel the opposite to what they say.
  • Clothes make the man: (Hamlet)  What one wears, reveals

something about the person’s inner self.

  • A laughing stock: (The Merry Wives of Windsor)  You are

considered a joke by many people, often by your actions.

  • Too much of a good thing: (As You Like It)  What you like, may not be good for you: love, food, money, drink.


Translations of some words from past to present:

Thee and Thou are replaced with You

Thy and Thine are replaced with Your

English writing of the past, often used older style words, which gave off a style of reverence.

Thou art is replaced by You are

Ay is replaced by Yes

Give me leave to is replaced by Allow me to

Alas is replaced with Unfortunately

Endth is replaced by End

Speaketh is replaced by Speak

Sayeth is replaced by Say

Just by removal of eth or th, changes to words used in out timeline.

At the time William Shakespeare wrote his works, the word don’t would not have been part of the English Language as it is today.

Be not afeard is replaced by Don’t be afraid

Hurt me not is replaced by Don’t hurt me

What looked he like is replaced by What did he look like

Stayed he long is replaced by Did he stay long

Today we look at some of the words spoken in the past, and we would question the grammatical form … but move on a few centuries and grammar forms have changed.

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