How Shakespeare invented words
The Oxforfd English Dictionary (OED) contains a list of more than 2000 words and idioms that were first attested between 1590 and 1610 and can all be recovered in ShakespeareŽ s works.
His plays are the earliest quotation of these words and that is why we credit Shakespeare the introduction of this new vocabulary. ShakespeareŽ s lexical inventions can be divided into:
New lexemes which Shakespeare borrowed from French, Latin, or other sources.
- assassination, bandit, courtship, obscene, pageantry, tranquil, remorseless
In some cases Shakespeare created new words from existing words.
- verb + ending -er to form a noun
- adjective + ly to form an adverb
- appearer, insulter, ceremoniously, laughable, distasteful, barefaced
Those words were nouns, that Shakespeare used as verbs or vice versa.
verb > nouns: champion, character, drug, hand, lip, muddy
noun > verbs: essay
In the OED one can find numerous conversions introduced by Shakespeare.
Here are two examples:
1591 Shakes. Two Gent. ii.vii. 4
The table wherein all my thoughts are visibly
'CharacterŽd', and engrauŽd. => character, v.
1607 Shakes. Timon ii.ii. 52 Var.
How dost Foole? Ape. Dost
'Dialogue' with thy shadow? => dialogue, v.