13 Responses

  1. FMH
    FMH at |

    I must say that I have my doubts here. Shakespeare might have coined some of these expressions, but many of them where probably allready around and used at his time. Take “hot blooded” for example. I think it’s safe to say that this is not Shakespeares invention – it’s a phrase from ancient medicine, where people believed that the temperature of the humors played a role in the expression of one’s character.
    Nobody would have understood Shakespeare well if he would have made up all the expressions people claim he did, he was bound to use the language of his time.

    1. Matt
      Matt at |

      Shakespeare revolutionized the English language he’s known for creating at least a few dozen new words that we use today if the author says they were coined by Shakespeare and my knowledge of 9th grade English I’d put my money on the author being right

      1. FMH
        FMH at |

        I have heard that, too. But still, without having done research myself, I doubt it. If he had changed so much about the language and made up many new words, his plays would have sounded strange to conteporary people and probably wouldn’t have gained a lot of popularity. I can understand that he made up and popularized many phrases still used today – but many of those claims (like “hot blooded” or “night-owl”) either seem to come for classic greek literature (which would make it possible, that Shakespeare popularized them in English) or from everyday language that might have been used in other written documents.
        My guess is, that many of his alledged inventions are details of his contemporary language, that just not represented in other written documents.
        I think I have to do some research on that.

        1. Shell Harris
          Shell Harris at |

          I see your point, but I tend to think of these phrases or expressions more like an SNL catch phrase. We hadn’t heard those before, but given the context in which they were used we understand their meaning; and because of the cleverness of those new expressions they certainly had no problem catching on. Of course, you may be correct and we may never know for sure. We can assume even if Shakespeare did not create all of these phrases, he surely had a hand in popularizing them.

        2. Resi
          Resi at |

          If you haven’t done the research, you have no right to doubt. Why even state your doubt if it is entirely unfounded?

      2. FMH
        FMH at |

        The word “assassination” is a good example for it. If the word was new to you, it would be impossible to understand. If Shakespeare had been the first one to import this word into English, he would have lost his audience there. So this word must have been known to the people of his time before he used it.

  2. Dave
    Dave at |

    Shakespeare gave poor Richard III a bad rep. He said he was a hunchback with a withered arm who killed his nephews. When in reality, all was wrong is he had a bad back. What sort of man would want to smear someone? The poor guy has been compared to a Nazi, Saddam Hussein.. You name it.

  3. Steve
    Steve at |

    ” Fun fact: to say “all of the sudden” is common among layman users, while using “all of a sudden” is deemed more grammatically correct.”

    Ah, the cheerful follies of those laymen users of the English language. If only they would take their various grammatical clues from those among us who are professional (TM) users of the English language. Or something.

    Despite my sarcasm, I enjoyed the list 🙂

  4. redstick
    redstick at |

    Thanks for a good article. A good sampling of Shakespeare’s original usages. A quick Google search has turned up a ton of others. All of the scholars .point out that, while it is impossible to determine whether or not Shakespeare actually originated the phrase or word, his citations are the first known.


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