Shakespearian Firsts

Shakespeare’s language had a large influence on the further development of the English language, especially on it’s vocabulary. He invented many new words or used existing words in new functions. The Oxford English Dictionary cites Shakespeare for over 2000 entries. These entries appear to be the earliest recordings, thus leading to the assumption that Shakespeare introduced them into the English lexis. Below you will find some examples for Shakespearean lexical inventories:

  • Borrowings
Some are new lexemes altogether which he borrowed from French or Latin or some other source, as for instance:
assasination, courtship, go-between, operate, roguery, wild goose chase, priceless.

  • Adaptions
Some words he created from existing English words by adding an ending, such as –er to a verb in order to form a noun or –ly to an adjective form to create an adverb and so on.
appearer, cerimoniously, countless, disgraceful, insulter, laughable, unreal, well-behaved.

  • Conversions
Some of his creations were verbs that he used as nouns or vice versa.
Important examples: champion, drug, essay, hand, lip, muddy.