Shakespeare quotes

Words and Phrases Coined by Shakespeare

(If someone can help me reference this that would be great!)

* * *

For many English-speakers, the following phrases are familiar enough to be considered common expressions, proverbs, and/or clichés. All of them seem to have originated with Shakespeare.

All our yesterdays (Macbeth)

All that glitters is not gold (The Merchant of Venice)

All’s well that ends well (title)

As good luck would have it (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

As merry as the day is long (Much Ado About Nothing / King John)

Bated breath (The Merchant of Venice)

Bag and baggage (As You Like It / Winter’s Tale)

Bear a charmed life (Macbeth)

Be-all and the end-all (Macbeth)

Beggar all description (Antony and Cleopatra)

Better foot before (“best foot forward”) (King John)

The better part of valor is discretion (I Henry IV; possibly already a known saying)

In a better world than this (As You Like It)

Neither a borrower nor a lender be (Hamlet)

Brave new world (The Tempest)

Break the ice (The Taming of the Shrew)

Breathed his last (3 Henry VI)

Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet)

Refuse to budge an inch (Measure for Measure / Taming of the Shrew)

Cold comfort (The Taming of the Shrew / King John)

Conscience does make cowards of us all (Hamlet)

Come what come may (“come what may”) (Macbeth)

Comparisons are odorous (Much Ado about Nothing)

Crack of doom (Macbeth)

Dead as a doornail (2 Henry VI)

A dish fit for the gods (Julius Caesar)

Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war (Julius Caesar)

Dog will have his day (Hamlet)

Devil incarnate (Titus Andronicus / Henry V)

Eaten me out of house and home (2 Henry IV)

Elbow room (King John; first attested 1540 according to Merriam-Webster)

Farewell to all my greatness (Henry VIII)

Faint hearted (I Henry VI)

Fancy-free (Midsummer Night’s Dream)

Fight till the last gasp (I Henry VI)

Flaming youth (Hamlet)

Fool’s paradise (Romeo and Juliet)

Forever and a day (As You Like It)

For goodness’ sake (Henry VIII)

Foregone conclusion (Othello)

Full circle (King Lear)

The game is afoot (I Henry IV)

The game is up (Cymbeline)

Give the devil his due (I Henry IV)

Good riddance (Troilus and Cressida)

Jealousy is the green-eyed monster (Othello)

It was Greek to me (Julius Caesar)

Heart of gold (Henry V)

Her infinite variety (Antony and Cleopatra)

‘Tis high time (The Comedy of Errors)

Hoist with his own petard (Hamlet)

Household words (Henry V)

A horse, a horse! My kingdom for a horse! (Richard III)

Ill wind which blows no man to good (2 Henry IV)

Improbable fiction (Twelfth Night)

In a pickle (The Tempest)

In my heart of hearts (Hamlet)

In my mind’s eye (Hamlet)

Infinite space (Hamlet)

Infirm of purpose (Macbeth)

In a pickle (The Tempest)

In my book of memory (I Henry VI)

It is but so-so(As You Like It)

It smells to heaven (Hamlet)

Itching palm (Julius Caesar)

Kill with kindness (Taming of the Shrew)

Killing frost (Henry VIII)

Knit brow (The Rape of Lucrece)

Knock knock! Who’s there? (Macbeth)

Laid on with a trowel (As You Like It)

Laughing stock (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

Laugh yourself into stitches (Twelfth Night)

Lean and hungry look (Julius Caesar)

Lie low (Much Ado about Nothing)

Live long day (Julius Caesar)

Love is blind (Merchant of Venice)

Men’s evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water (Henry VIII)

Melted into thin air (The Tempest)

Though this be madness, yet there is method in it (“There’s a method to my madness”) (Hamlet)

Make a virtue of necessity (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)

The Makings of(Henry VIII)

Milk of human kindness (Macbeth)

Ministering angel (Hamlet)

Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows (The Tempest)

More honored in the breach than in the observance (Hamlet)

More in sorrow than in anger (Hamlet)

More sinned against than sinning (King Lear)

Much Ado About Nothing (title)

Murder most foul (Hamlet)

Murder will out (Hamlet)

Naked truth (Love’s Labours Lost)

Neither rhyme nor reason (As You Like It)

Not slept one wink (Cymbeline)

Nothing in his life became him like the leaving it (Macbeth)

[Obvious] as a nose on a man’s face (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)

Once more into the breach (Henry V)

One fell swoop (Macbeth)

One that loved not wisely but too well (Othello)

Time is out of joint (Hamlet)

Out of the jaws of death (Twelfth Night)

Own flesh and blood (Hamlet)

Star-crossed lovers (Romeo and Juliet)

Parting is such sweet sorrow (Romeo and Juliet)

What’s past is prologue (The Tempest)

[What] a piece of work [is man] (Hamlet)

Pitched battle (Taming of the Shrew)

A plague on both your houses (Romeo and Juliet)

Play fast and loose (King John)

Pomp and circumstance (Othello)

[A poor] thing, but mine own (As You Like It)

Pound of flesh (The Merchant of Venice)

Primrose path (Hamlet)

Quality of mercy is not strained (The Merchant of Venice)

Salad days (Antony and Cleopatra)

Sea change (The Tempest)

Seen better days (As You Like It? Timon of Athens?)

Send packing (I Henry IV)

How sharper than the serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child (King Lear)

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day (Sonnets)

Make short shrift (Richard III)

Sick at heart (Hamlet)

Snail paced (Troilus and Cressida)

Something in the wind (The Comedy of Errors)

Something wicked this way comes (Macbeth)

A sorry sight (Macbeth)

Sound and fury (Macbeth)

Spotless reputation (Richard II)

Stony hearted (I Henry IV)

Such stuff as dreams are made on (The Tempest)

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep (“Still waters run deep”) (2 Henry VI)

The short and the long of it (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

Sweet are the uses of adversity (As You Like It)

Sweets to the sweet (Hamlet)

Swift as a shadow (A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Tedious as a twice-told tale (King John)

Set my teeth on edge (I Henry IV)

Tell truth and shame the devil (1 Henry IV)

Thereby hangs a tale (Othello; in context, this seems to have been already in use)

There’s no such thing (?) (Macbeth)

There’s the rub (Hamlet)

This mortal coil (Hamlet)

To gild refined gold, to pain the lily (“to gild the lily”) (King John)

To thine own self be true (Hamlet)

Too much of a good thing (As You Like It)

Tower of strength (Richard III)

Towering passion (Hamlet)

Trippingly on the tongue (Hamlet)

Truth will out (The Merchant of Venice)

Violent delights have violent ends (Romeo and Juliet)

Wear my heart upon my sleeve (Othello)

What the dickens (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

What’s done is done (Macbeth)

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. (Romeo and Juliet)

What fools these mortals be (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

What the dickens (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

Wild-goose chase (Romeo and Juliet)

Wish is father to that thought (2 Henry IV)

Witching time of night (Hamlet)

Working-day world (As You Like It)

The world’s my oyster (2 Henry IV)

Yeoman’s service (Hamlet)

Words Supposedly Coined by Shakespeare

I compiled these from multiple sources online in 2003. Each of these words and compounds supposedly is not known to have appeared in print prior to the publication of Shakespeare’s works. For this reason, people claim that Shakespeare invented these words.

How many of these are true coinages by “the Bard”, and how many are simply the earliest written attestations of a word or words already in use, I can’t tell you. The ones that seem real are new forms of words already in the language. Words like “advertising”, “assassination”, “bedazzled”, “consanguineous”, “dishearten”, “enmesh”, “eventful”, “eyesore”, “lackluster”, “moonbeam”, outbreak”, “quarrelsome”, “radiance”, “reclusive”, “seamy-side”, “stealthy”, “submerge”, “time-honored”, “undervalued”, “unmitigated”, “unreal”, “well-read”, “watchdog”, and “whirligig” would have been meaningful to the audience.

A few words are first attested in Shakespeare and seem to have caused extra problems for the typesetters. This suggests they are really coined by Shakespeare. One example is “denote”.

The popular book Coined by Shakespeare acknowledges that it is presenting first attestations rather than certain inventions. For example, “alligator” appeared for the first time in print as an English word in “Romeo and Juliet”, but it has Spanish antecedents, and only the terminal “-r” seems to be new with Shakespeare. “Puke” appears as a vulgar term for vomiting in the near-contemporary “Duchess of Malfi”, and it seems well-known; so Shakespeare’s use in “As You Like It” seems more likely just a first attestation. The region of Dalmatia is as old as the Roman Empire, and obviously Shakespeare did not coin the adjectival form.

Words like “anchovy”, “bandit”, and “zany” are just first attestations of loan-words. By contrast, in “Troilus and Cressida”, Shakespeare seems to have been having fun introducing new forms of old words, even though “orgulous” and “deracinate” never did catch on.

Right now I’m in the process of referencing these. I would like to hear from anyone who knows for certain about any item on this page.

abstemious (The Tempest — a Latin word that meant “to abstain from alcoholic drink” was generalized to sexual behavior as well)

academe (Love’s Labour’s Lost; this is just an English form of “Academy”, the Greek for Plato’s grove)

accommodation (Othello)

accused (n.) (Richard II — first known use as a noun, meaning person accused of a crime)

addiction (Henry V / Othello)

admirable (several; seems unlikely)

advertising (adj.)(Measure for Measure; in context, means “being attentive”; the noun was already in use)

aerial (Othello)

alligator (Romeo and Juliet; Spanish “aligarto” was already in use in English)

amazement (13 instances; first known use as a noun)

anchovy (I Henry IV; first attestation in English of the Spanish word for dried edible fish)

apostrophe (“apostrophas”)(Love’s Labour’s Lost; seems to be a well-known word already)

arch-villain (Measure for Measure / Timon of Athens)

to arouse (2 Henry VI / Hamlet; “rouse” was the usual form)

assassination (Macbeth; “assassin” was already in use and derives from “hashish eater”)

auspicious (several; “auspice” was a Roman practice of fortune-telling by bird flight)

bachelorship (I Henry VI)

backing (I Henry VI; this is just a pun on a known word)

bandit (II Henry VI, actually “bandetto”, the first attestation in English of a familiar Italian word for people “banned”, i.e., outlaws)

barefaced (in the sense of “barefaced power”) (Macbeth)

baseless (in the sense of fantasy without grounding in fact) (The Tempest)

beached (several, merely means “possessing a beach”)

bedazzled (The Taming of the Shrew)

bedroom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, merely means a place to sleep on the ground)

belongings (Measure for Measure)

to besmirch (Henry V)

birthplace (Coriolanus; first attestation)

to blanket (King Lear; first use as a verb)

bloodstained (I Henry IV)

blusterer (A Lover’s Complaint)

bold-faced (I Henry VI)

bottled (Richard III)

bump (Romeo and Juliet; first attestation of onomopoeic word)

buzzer (Hamlet; means gossipper)

to cake (Timon of Athens, first attestation as a verb)

to castigate (Timon of Athens)

to cater (As You Like It; from coetous, a buyer of provisions)

clangor (3 Henry VI / 2 Henry IV)

to champion (Macbeth; first attestation as a verb, and in an older sense of “to challenge”; though the noun was familiar as someone who would fight for another)

circumstantial (As You Like It / Cymbeline; first attestation in the sense of “indirect”)

cold-blooded (King John; first use to mean “lack of emotion”)

coldhearted (Antony and Cleopatra)

compact (several; seems to have been a common word)

to comply (Othello)

to compromise (The Merchant of Venice, several of the histories; seems to have been already in use)

to cow (Macbeth; first use in English of a Scandinavian verb)

consanguineous (Twelfth Night; “consanguinity” was already in use)

control (n.) (Twelfth Night)

countless (Titus Andronicus / Pericles)

courtship (several, seems unikely)

critic (Love’s Labour’s Lost; Latin term)

critical (not in today’s sense) (Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

cruelhearted (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)

Dalmatians (Cymbeline)

dauntless (Macbeth)

dawn (I Henry IV, King John; first use as a noun, the standard had been “dawning”)

day’s work (several, must have been a common expression)

deafening (II Henry IV; in the sense of a noise that is loud but does not produce real deafness)

to denote (several; already a word in Latin)

depository (???)

discontent (Richard III / Titus Andronicus; the verb was in use but this is the first attestation as a noun)

design (several, seems unlikely)

dexterously (Twelfth Night)

dialogue (several, seems already familiar)

disgraceful (I Henry VI; means “not graceful”)

dishearten (Henry V)

to dislocate (King Lear, refers to anatomy)

distasteful (Timon of Athens)

distracted (Hamlet / Measure for Measure; seems possible)

divest (Henry V / King Lear; probably already in use as referring to a royal title)

domineering (Love’s Labour’s Lost; from a Dutch word)

downstairs (I Henry IV, supposedly first use as an adjective)

droplet (Timon of Athens)

to drug (Macbeth; first use as a verb)

to dwindle (I Henry IV / Macbeth, seems already familiar as a term for body wasting)

to educate (Love’s Labour’s Lost)

to elbow (King Lear; first use as a verb)

embrace (I Henry VI; first use as a noun)

employer (Much Ado about Nothing)

employment (several, obviously familiar)

engagement (several, seems simply the first attestation)

to enmesh (Othello)

to ensnare (Othello)

enrapt (Troilus and Cressida)

enthroned (Antony and Cleopatra)

epileptic (King Lear; first use as an adjective, though the noun was old)

equivocal (Othello / All’s Well that Ends Well; first use as adjective, though the verb “to equivocate” was familiar)

eventful (As You Like It)

excitement (Hamlet / Troilus and Cressida; both times as plural; first use as a noun)

expedience (several, supposedly first use as noun)

exposure (several, supposedly first use as noun)

eyeball (The Tempest)

eyedrops (II Henry IV; means “tears”)

eyesore (The Taming of the Shrew)

fanged (Hamlet, first attestation)

farmhouse (The Merry Wives of Windsor; first known use of the compound)

far-off (several, seems already familiar)

fashionable (Timon of Athens / Troilus and Cressida)

fathomless (not today’s sense) (Troilus and Cressida)

fitful (Macbeth)

fixture (not current sense) (Merry Wives of Windsor / Winter’s Tale)

flawed (King Lear; first use as an adjective)

flowery (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

foppish (King Lear)

fortune-teller (The Comedy of Errors)

to forward (I Henry IV; first use as a verb)

foul-mouthed (several, seems already familiar)

freezing (Cymbeline)

frugal (several; “frugality” was already in common use)

full-grown (Pericles)

gallantry (Troilus and Cressida)

generous (several, obviously already known)

gloomy (several, “to gloom” was a verb)

glow (several; the word had originally meant red-and-warm)

gnarled (Measure for Measure; alteration of knurled which was a standard word for bumpy)

go-between (several, seems familiar)

to gossip (The Comedy of Errors; first use as a verb; “gossip” was one’s familiar friends)

gust (III Henry VI, seems already familiar and was an Old Norse word)

half-blooded (King Lear)

hint (Othello, first use in today’s sense)

hob-nails (I Henry IV, alleged; seems already familiar)

hobnob (Twelfth Night; older term was “hab, nab”, and not in today’s sense)

homely (several, seems already familiar)

honey-tongued (Love’s Labour’s Lost)

hoodwinked (already known from falconry)

hostile (several, seems like a word that is already familiar)

hot-blooded (The Merry Wives of Windsor / King Lear)

housekeeping (The Taming of the Shrew; seems unlikely)

howl (several, clearly familiar)

to humor (Love’s Labour’s Lost, first attestation as a verb)

hunchbacked (can’t find)

to hurry (Comedy of Errors, first attestation as verb)

ill-tempered (can’t find)

immediacy (King Lear, first use as noun)

impartial (2 Henry IV)

to impede (Macbeth, first use as verb, though “impediment” was already widely used)

import (several, and not used in the modern sense)

immediacy (King Lear, first attestation as a noun)

importantly (Cymbeline, first attestation as an adverb)

inaudible (All’s Well that Ends Well; “audible” was already in use)

inauspicious (Romeo and Juliet)

indistinguishable (not in today’s sense)(Troilus and Cressida)

inducement (several, seems unlikely)

investment (II Henry IV, not in present sense)

invitation (The Merry Wives of Windsor; signifies “flirting”)

invulnerable King John / Hamlet / The Tempest; first attestation for the negative; Coriolanus has unvulnerable)

jaded (several, seems already a term of contempt)

Judgement Day (I Henry VI; usual term had been “Day of Judgement”)

juiced (Merry Wives of Windsor; first attestation as an adjective)

kissing (several, first attestation of the participle, though surely not its first use)

lackluster (As You Like It)

ladybird (Romeo and Juliet)

to lament (several, seems already familiare)

to lapse (several, first attestation as a verb, though already familiar as a noun)

to launder (first use as a verb; “laundress” was in common use)

laughable (The Merchant of Venice)

leaky (Antony and Cleopatra / The Tempest)

leapfrog (Henry V; first attestation but seems unlikely as a coinage)

lonely (several, seems unlikely)

long-legged (can’t find)

love letter (can’t find)

to lower (several, seems already known)

luggage (first use as noun)

lustrous (Twelfth Night / All’s Well that Ends Well)

madcap (several, attestation as adjective; the noun had become popular just before)

majestic (several, first use as adjective)

majestically (I Henry IV; first attestation as adverb)

malignancy (Twelfth Night, seems possible)

manager (Love’s Labour’s Lost / Midsummer Night’s Dream; first attestation as noun)

marketable (As You Like It; first use as adjective)

militarist (All’s Well that Ends Well)

mimic (Midsummer Night’s Dream)

misgiving (Julius Caesar; first use as noun, though “to misgive” was in common use)

misplaced (several, seems unlikely)

to misquote (1 Henry IV; not in the present sense)

money’s worth (Love’s Labours Lost)

monumental (several, seems unlikely)

moonbeam (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

mortifying (Merchant of Venice / Much Ado About Nothing )

motionless (Henry V)

mountaineer (Cymbeline; the sense is “hillbilly”)

multitudinous (Macbeth)

neglect (several, obviously already known)

to negotiate (Much Ado about Nothing / Twelfth Night; verb from the Latin)

new-fallen (Venus and Adonis / I Henry IV)

new-fangled (Love’s Labour’s Lost / As You Like It)

nimble-footed (several, seems already a familiar expression)

noiseless (King Lear / All’s Well that Ends Well)

to numb (King Lear, first attestation as a transitive verb)

obscene (several; straight from Latin)

obsequiously (first use of the adverb; comes from “obsequies”, or funeral rites)

outbreak (Hamlet, first attestation as a noun)

to outdare (I Henry IV)

to outgrow (can’t find)

to outweigh (can’t find)

over-cool (II Henry IV)

overgrowth (can’t find)

over-ripened (II Henry VI ;first-use of the familiar compound)

over-weathered The Merchant of Venice)

overview (can’t find)

pageantry (Pericles Prince of Tyre)

pale-faced (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

to pander (several; was already a proverb)

pedant (several, seems already in common use for a stuffy teacher)

perplex (King John / Cymbeline)

perusal (Sonnets / Hamlet; first use as a noun)

to petition (Antony and Cleopatra / Coriolanus; first use as a verb)

pious (several, seems very unlikely)

posture (several, seems known)

premeditated (several; first attestation of the adjective, though the noun was in use)

priceless (???)

Promethean (Othello / Love’s Labour’s Lost)

protester (not today’s sense) (Julius Caesar)

published (2 Henry VI)

puking (As You Like It)

puppy-dog (King John / Henry V)

on purpose (several; seems very unlikely)

quarrelsome (As You Like It / Taming of the Shrew)

questing (As You Like It; first use of the gerund)

in question (several, seems already in use)

radiance (several; first use as noun)

to rant (The Merry Wives of Windsor / Hamlet; loan-word from Dutch or previously-unattested English word?)

rancorous (2 Henry VI, Comedy of Errors, Richard III, all early plays, seems unlikely)

raw-boned (I Henry VI)

reclusive (Much Ado about Nothing; first use as adjective)

reinforcement (Troilus and Cressida / Coriolanus; seems already in use)

reliance (???)

remorseless (several, first attestation of this form)

reprieve (several, obviously already in use)

resolve (several, obviously already in use)

restoration (King Lear)

restraint (several, seems already familiar)

retirement (II Henry IV; refers to military retreat; first use as noun)

revolting (several, obviously already familiar)

to rival (King Lear; first attestation as verb; noun was well-known)

rival (Midsummer Night’s Dream; first attestation as adjective, noun was well-known)

roadway (II Henry IV; first attestation of the compound)

rumination (As You Like It; first use as noun)

sacrificial (Timon of Athens; not today’s usage)

sanctimonious (Measure for Measure / Tempest)

satisfying (Othello / Cymbeline)

savage (several; the word was obviously already in use)

savagery (King John / Henry V; first use as this form)

schoolboy (Julius Caesar / Much Ado about Nothing)

scrubbed (The Merchant of Venice)

scuffle (Antony and Cleopatra; first use as noun, though the verb was familiar)

seamy-side (Othello)

to secure (II Henry VI; first use as a verb; the adjective was well-known)

shipwrecked (Pericles Prince of Tyre, seems unlikely)

shooting star (Richard II; first known use of the phrase)

shudder (Timon of Athens; first use as a noun; verb already well-known)

silk (alleged; obviously not Shakespeare’s)

stocking (obviously not Shakespeare’s)

silliness (Othello)

skim milk (I Henry IV; first use of the familiar term)

to sneak (Measure for Measure; supposed first use of the verb)

soft-hearted (2 Henry VI / 3 Henry VI; first use of the familiar phrase)

spectacled (Coriolanus; not in today’s sense)

splitting (II Henry VI; first use as adjective)

sportive (Richard III / Comedy of Errors / All’s Well that Ends Well; supposed first use)

to squabble (Othello; supposed first use, as with “to swagger”)

stealthy (Macbeth; first use as adjective)

stillborn (can’t find, obviously not Shakespeare’s)

to submerge (Antony and Cleopatra)

successful (Titus Andronicus, seems dubious)

suffocating (Othello; supposed first use as a descriptor)

to sully (I Henry VI)

superscript (Love’s Labour’s Lost)

to supervise (Love’s Labour’s Lost; also Hamlet but not in today’s sense)

to swagger (II Henry IV, others; in context this seems to be already a well-known word)

switch (first use to mean “twig”)

tardily (All’s Well that Ends Well; first use of adverb)

tardiness (King Lear; “tardy” as adjective was well-known)

threateningly (All’s Well that Ends Well; first use of the adverb)

tightly (The Merry Wives of Windsor; first use as an adverb)

time-honored (Richard II)

title page (can’t find; seems unlikely)

to torture (several; first use as a verb)

traditional (Richard III; first use as adjective)

tranquil (Othello; “tranquility” was an old word)

transcendence (All’s Well that Ends Well; first attestation of the noun)

tongue-tied (III Henry VI / Julius Caesar / Troilus and Cressida; seems first attestation of a phrase already in use)

unaccommodated (King Lear)

unaware (Venus and Adonis; first use as an adverb; the adjective was not yet in use)

to unclog (Coriolanus, first use as a negative)

unappeased (Titus Andronicus)

unchanging (The Merchant of Venice)

unclaimed (As You Like It; not in today’s sense)

uncomfortable (Romeo and Juliet)

to uncurl (???)

to undervalue (The Merchant of Venice)

to undress (The Taming of the Shrew; seems unlikely)

unearthly (Winter’s Tale)

uneducated (Love’s Labour’s Lost, seems possible)

ungoverned (Richard III / King Lear)

to unhand (Hamlet)

unmitigated (Much Ado about Nothing)

unpublished (King Lear; in the sense of “still unknown”)

unreal (Macbeth, first use of the negative)

unsolicited (Titus Andronicus / Henry VIII; supposed first use of the form)

unswayed (Richard III; not in today’s sense, but “is the sword unswung?”)

unwillingness (Richard III / Richard II)

upstairs (I Henry IV; supposedly first use as an adjective)

urging (Richard III / Comedy of Errors; first attestation as a noun

useful (several, seems already familiar)

varied (Love’s Labour’s Lost, others)

vastly (Rape of Lucrece, not present sense)

viewless (Measure for Measure; means “invisible”)

vulnerable (Macbeth; used in today’s sense)

watchdog (The Tempest; first use of the phrase)

well-behaved (The Merry Wives of Windsor; first known use of the compound)

well-bred (II Henry IV; first use of the familiar compound)

well-read (I Henry IV)

whirligig (Twelfth Night)

to widen (???)

widowed (Sonnet 97 / Coriolanus; first use as an adjective)

worn out (Romeo and Juliet / 2 Henry IV; seems unlikely)

worthless (III Henry VI, several others; seems just a first attestation)

yelping (I Henry VI; first attestation of this adjectival form)

zany (Love’s Labour Lost; simply a loan-word from Italian commedia dell’arte)

Click here for some words which Shakespeare evidently coined but which did NOT pass into common use.

They include “affined”, “to articulate” (in the sense of “to negotiate”), “attasked”, “cadent” (in the sense of “dripping”), “to beetle”, “bubukles”, “co-marts”, “co-mates”, “congreeing”, “conspectuities”, “crants” (a borrowing for “flower crowns”), “credent”, “dispunge”, “enactures”, “to force” (meaning “to reinforce”), “fracted”, “to friend”, “germins”, “immediacy” (meaning immediate authority from), “immoment”, “impair” (adjective for impure), “incarnadine”, “incorpsed” (incorporated), “indigest” (disordered), “intrenchant” (incapable of being cut), “irregulous”, “jointing”, “mered”, “mirable”, “mistempered”, “operant”, “oppugnancy”, “palmy”, “out-crafted”, “out-villained”, “out-tongued”, “plantage”, “primogenitive”, “primy”, “propugnation”, “relume”, “reprobance”, “rigol”, “rooky”, “roted”, “rubious”, “smilets”, “to stell”, “stellèd”, “supplyment”, “unsisting”, and “virgined” (held securely).


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