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10 Popular Contemporary-Sounding Words Coined by Shakespeare

The Great Bard is one of the most prolific inventors of words in the English Language. At present, researchers attribute over 1,700 new words to William Shakespeare. While it’s difficult to say with certainty that Shakespeare made up that many new words, linguists are confident that the Bard of Avon was the first to record and preserve quite a few popular everyday words.
Without the great English playwright and author’s contributions, we probably wouldn’t have such words as fashionable, belongings, eventful, and even uncomfortable today. Certainly, Shakespeare’s impact on the language we speak today was far greater than most of us realize; just take a look at these 10 ordinary words, which are attributed to the famous author.

1. Advertising

Words Coined by Shakespeare Advertising
Did you know that the entire field of advertising has Shakespeare to thank for their name? It’s true, although the original meaning of this word was not related to marketing and selling things. In the quote above, for example, it’s used in the form of an adjective as a synonym to “attentive.” But there’s another Shakespeare quote from Measure for Measure: Act 5, Scene 1 that uses it as a verb too:
“Your friar is now your prince: as I was then    
Advertising and holy to your business    
Not changing heart with habit, I am still.”
In this quotation, advertising means "warning your friends" or "bringing attention to something."

2. Fashionable

Words Coined by Shakespeare Fashionable
The word fashionable, on the other hand, seems to have changed very little over the centuries. This very quote captures fashion’s tendency to come and go just perfectly! And that's no coincidence either. Indeed, we know from historical records that fashion was a very powerful status symbol in Elizabethan England. Both men and women wore elaborate clothing, hairstyles, and makeup to show their high status in society.

3. Belongings

Words Coined by Shakespeare Belongings
If you just finished reading the quote above and it doesn’t seem to make sense, don’t be alarmed. It’s because the word belongings actually started off as meaning any characteristic that can be attributed or connected to a person or thing. It’s only two centuries later, in 1817, that linguists see the first written records of the word belongings referring to "goods, effects, possessions," according to Etymonline.

4. Uncomfortable

Words Coined by Shakespeare Uncomfortable
Although Shakespeare wasn’t the primary author to use the word comfortable in writing, he was the first to negate it, creating the word uncomfortable. In fact, the great English author was quite fond of adding the prefix un- to adjectives as a way to create new words and meanings.
Judging from this quotation from Romeo and Juliet, though, uncomfortable was a much stronger word back in the day. People wouldn’t describe their shoes are uncomfortable, but they would probably define a serious situation like Romeo and Juliet’s tragic love story as such.

5. Eventful

Words Coined by Shakespeare Eventful
Researchers are positive that Shakespeare was the one who coined this useful word. The word event had existed for centuries before Shakespeare’s time - it’s an English version of the Latin word eventus that most likely found its way into English through French. However, Shakespeare was the first to add the -ful suffix to the word and created eventful, just as we know it today.

6. Cold-blooded

Words Coined by Shakespeare Cold-blooded
In the 1600s, the word cold-blooded was a fresh metaphor, but it is mostly used to describe all kinds of criminals these days (and maybe some lizards and such). Speaking of adjectives that include the word blood, did you know that Shakespeare also coined the adjectives hot-blooded and half-blooded? What can we say? The man certainly loved his blood-related metaphors.

7. Bandit

Words Coined by Shakespeare Bandit
If you were about to exclaim that banditto and bandit are not the same, let’s look into the etymology of the English word bandit. According to Shakespeare’s English, the word bandit was borrowed from the Italian word bandito that means “outlaw.”
In fact, the term was only adopted into English in the 1590s, which is exactly why Shakespeare spells it that way in the quote above. Fun fact: the words bandit, banish, and banner all have the same origins - the Vulgar Latin term bannire that means “to proclaim.” Isn’t that fascinating?

8. Arch-villain

Words Coined by Shakespeare Arch-villain
The word arch-villain has a very contemporary ring to it, probably because it’s used a lot in superhero movies and comics these days. But in reality, the word itself predates the first superheroes by centuries and centuries. Adding the prefix arch- to point out that the villain was the meanest of the mean was quite a genius technique by Shakespeare. Needless to say, the term stuck, and we use it quite a lot even today!

9. Misquote

Words Coined by Shakespeare Misquote
When we say that something was misquoted, we usually mean that a certain quotation was either written down imprecisely or attributed to the wrong author. Shakespeare used this verb a bit differently. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term misquote had originally meant “to mark down or interpret incorrectly.”
So it essentially meant that something was misconstrued or misunderstood. The modern interpretation of this term came to be a few decades after Shakespeare’s days - in the 1690s.

10. Lackluster

Words Coined by Shakespeare Lackluster
Here’s another fun fact. Back in the day, putting the word lack- before a word was a common practice. People used words like lack-all, lack-wit, and lack-life all the time. Even King John of England, who had lost most of his lands to King Philip II of France, came to be known as John Lackland.
From the same method, the word lackluster was born. It was initially spelled by the Bard as lack-lustre, and it could be used to describe anything that is devoid of its inherent light or waning in shine.
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Image Source &Cover Image: BatyrAshirbayev98/ Wikimedia Commons (cropped)
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