The Shakespearean method of writing

Made up words

You thought I was going to say something about the iambic pentameter didn’t you? That’s actually not what I was referring to. The method I was referring was the zany creation of words. Yes, he was a playwright and had the creative authority to do basically anything he wanted. The man performed for the Queen. Editors however, would have a heart attack if they had to edit a book that he had written. But that’s just the idea isn’t it? You want people to be so confused by what you’re saying their imagination runs wild with ideas as if you were dreaming on a midsummer’s night. He crafted tragedy and comedy and tragic comedy and he made audiences through the ages believe that the words were real. He was so convincing that centuries later Jessica is the most popular name in America. The legacy is all there but let’s take a look at the method.

 

Schoolboy’s dedication

While William didn’t attend a college because he was not from a wealthy family, his studies in grammar school were intensive. Young William quickly became a writer when he found he didn’t get any lead roles in acting. Some of the words he made up are in his plays, but he was also a notable poet and paved the road to modern English from middle English. Shakespeare also invented the word road, which was not a recent invention at the time. When there was opportunity for definition he took it.

 

The evolution of words

You can use the word fuck or smurf in replacement of any word you want. This was one way Shakespeare invented new definitions, by transforming them from a noun into a verb, or an adjective into an adverb. When the world is changing around you, you need to find a way to describe it accurately and semantically. You can twist a habit of linguistics and accent to make an appropriate written word such as frenemy. We all know this is a word used to describe a friend thats also an enemy. You might take a look at some of the words on the Urban Dictionary and say they’re Shakespearean (however crude the definitions are.) The evolution of our language has been increasing rapidly in recent years and it’s only a matter of time before the terms we think of as slang become more widely and academically accepted. This is unless the world soon becomes a distopic wasteland full of mutated beings transformed by a nuclear winter.

 

Don’t tread on me Y’all

Most of us have some phrase or word that we use thats distinctly colloquial or even a “home word” that runs in families or social circles. The fact is that most of us use phrases that we know to be unique to our group or area. But would you be interested to know that you’ve been using these words that Shakespeare invented?

  • Academe
  • accessible
  • accommodation
  • addiction (Shakespeare meant ‘tendency’)
  • admirable
  • aerial (Shakespeare meant ‘of the air’)
  • airless
  • amazement
  • anchovy
  • arch-villain
  • to arouse
  • assassination
  • auspicious
  • bacheolorship (‘bachelorhood’)
  • to barber
  • barefaced
  • baseless
  • batty (Shakespeare meant ‘bat-like’)
  • beachy (‘beach-covered’)
  • to bedabble
  • to bedazzle
  • bedroom (Shakespeare meant a ‘room in bed’)
  • to belly (‘to swell’)
  • belongings
  • to besmirch
  • to bet
  • to bethump
  • birthplace
  • black-faced
  • to blanket
  • bloodstained
  • bloodsucking
  • blusterer
  • bodikins (‘little bodies’)
  • bold-faced
  • braggartism
  • brisky
  • broomstaff (‘broom-handle’)
  • budger (‘one who budges’)
  • bump (as a noun)
  • buzzer (Shakespeare meant ‘tattle-tale’)
  • to cake
  • candle holder
  • to canopy
  • to cater (as ‘to bring food’)
  • to castigate
  • catlike
  • to champion
  • characterless
  • cheap (in pejorative sense of ‘vulgar’)
  • chimney-top
  • chopped (Shakespeare meant ‘chapped’)
  • churchlike
  • circumstantial
  • cold-blooded
  • coldhearted
  • compact (as noun ‘agreement’)
  • to comply
  • to compromise (Shakespeare meant ‘to agree’)
  • consanguineous
  • control (as a noun)
  • coppernose (‘a kind of acne’)
  • countless
  • courtship
  • to cow (as ‘intimidate’)
  • critical
  • cruelhearted
  • to cudgel
  • Dalmatian
  • to dapple
  • dauntless
  • dawn (as a noun)
  • day’s work
  • deaths-head
  • defeat (the noun)
  • to denote
  • depositary (as ‘trustee’)
  • dewdrop
  • dexterously (Shakespeare spelled it ‘dexteriously’)
  • disgraceful (Shakespeare meant ‘unbecoming’)
  • to dishearten
  • to dislocate
  • distasteful (Shakespeare meant ‘showing disgust’)
  • distrustful
  • dog-weary
  • doit (a Dutch coin: ‘a pittance’)
  • domineering
  • downstairs
  • East Indies
  • to educate
  • to elbow
  • embrace (as a noun)
  • employer
  • employment
  • enfranchisement
  • engagement
  • to enmesh
  • enrapt
  • to enthrone
  • epileptic
  • equivocal
  • eventful
  • excitement (Shakespeare meant ‘incitement’)
  • expedience
  • expertness
  • exposure
  • eyeball
  • eyedrop (Shakespeare meant as a ‘tear’)
  • eyewink
  • fair-faced
  • fairyland
  • fanged
  • fap (‘intoxicated’)
  • farmhouse
  • far-off
  • fashionable
  • fashionmonger
  • fathomless (Shakespeare meant ‘too huge to be encircled by one’s arms’)
  • fat-witted
  • featureless (Shakespeare meant ‘ugly’)
  • fiendlike
  • to fishify (‘turn into fish’)
  • fitful
  • fixture (Shakespeare meant ‘fixing’ or setting ‘firmly in place’)
  • fleshment (‘the excitement of first success’)
  • flirt-gill (a ‘floozy’)
  • flowery (‘full of florid expressions’)
  • fly-bitten
  • footfall
  • foppish
  • foregone
  • fortune-teller
  • foul mouthed
  • Franciscan
  • freezing (as an adjective)
  • fretful
  • frugal
  • full-grown
  • fullhearted
  • futurity
  • gallantry (Shakespeare meant ‘gallant people’)
  • garden house
  • generous (Shakespeare meant ‘gentle,’ ‘noble’)
  • gentlefolk
  • glow (as a noun)
  • to glutton
  • to gnarl
  • go-between
  • to gossip (Shakespeare meant ‘to make oneself at home like a gossip—that is, a kindred spirit or a fast friend’)
  • grass plot
  • gravel-blind
  • gray-eyed
  • green-eyed
  • grief-shot (as ‘sorrow-stricken’)
  • grime (as a noun)
  • to grovel
  • gust (as a ‘wind-blast’)
  • half-blooded
  • to happy (‘to gladden’)
  • heartsore
  • hedge-pig
  • hell-born
  • to hinge
  • hint (as a noun)
  • hobnail (as a noun)
  • homely (sense ‘ugly’)
  • honey-tongued
  • hornbook (an ‘alphabet tablet’)
  • hostile
  • hot-blooded
  • howl (as a noun)
  • to humor
  • hunchbacked
  • hurly (as a ‘commotion’)
  • to hurry
  • idle-headed
  • ill-tempered
  • ill-used
  • impartial
  • to impede
  • imploratory (‘solicitor’)
  • import (the noun: ‘importance’ or ‘signifigance’)
  • inaudible
  • inauspicious
  • indirection
  • indistinguishable
  • inducement
  • informal (Shakespeare meant ‘unformed’ or ‘irresolute’)
  • to inhearse (to ‘load into a hearse’)
  • to inlay
  • to instate (Shakespeare, who spelled it ‘enstate,’ meant ‘to endow’)
  • inventorially (‘in detail’)
  • investment (Shakespeare meant as ‘a piece of clothing’)
  • invitation
  • invulnerable
  • jaded (Shakespeare seems to have meant ‘contemptible’)
  • juiced (‘juicy’)
  • keech (‘solidified fat’)
  • kickie-wickie (a derogatory term for a wife)
  • kitchen-wench
  • lackluster
  • ladybird
  • lament
  • land-rat
  • to lapse
  • laughable
  • leaky
  • leapfrog
  • lewdster
  • loggerhead (Shakespeare meant ‘blockhead’)
  • lonely (Shakespeare meant ‘lone’)
  • long-legged
  • love letter
  • lustihood
  • lustrous
  • madcap
  • madwoman
  • majestic
  • malignancy (Shakespeare meant ‘malign tendency’)
  • manager
  • marketable
  • marriage bed
  • militarist (Shakespeare meant ‘soldier’)
  • mimic (as a noun)
  • misgiving (sense ‘uneasiness’)
  • misquote
  • mockable (as ‘deserving ridicule’)
  • money’s worth (‘money-worth’ dates from the 14th century)
  • monumental
  • moonbeam
  • mortifying (as an adjective)
  • motionless
  • mountaineer (Shakespeare meant as ‘mountain-dweller’)
  • to muddy
  • neglect (as a noun)
  • to negotiate
  • never-ending
  • newsmonger
  • nimble-footed
  • noiseless
  • nook-shotten (‘full of corners or angles’)
  • to numb
  • obscene (Shakespeare meant ‘revolting’)
  • ode
  • to offcap (to ‘doff one’s cap’)
  • offenseful (meaning ‘sinful’)
  • offenseless (‘unoffending’)
  • Olympian (Shakespeare meant ‘Olympic’)
  • to operate
  • oppugnancy (‘antagonism’)
  • outbreak
  • to outdare
  • to outfrown
  • to out-Herod
  • to outscold
  • to outsell (Shakespeare meant ‘to exceed in value’)
  • to out-talk
  • to out-villain
  • to outweigh
  • overblown (Shakespeare meant ‘blown over’)
  • overcredulous
  • overgrowth
  • to overpay
  • to overpower
  • to overrate
  • overview (Shakespeare meant as ‘supervision’)
  • pageantry
  • to palate (Shakespeare meant ‘to relish’)
  • pale-faced
  • to pander
  • passado (a kind of sword-thrust)
  • paternal
  • pebbled
  • pedant (Shakespeare meant a schoolmaster)
  • pedantical
  • pendulous (Shakespeare meant ‘hanging over’)
  • to perplex
  • to petition
  • pignut (a type of tuber)
  • pious
  • please-man (a ‘yes-man’)
  • plumpy (‘plump’)
  • posture (Shakespeare seems to have meant ‘position’ or ‘positioning’)
  • prayerbook
  • priceless
  • profitless
  • Promethean
  • protester (Shakespeare meant ‘one who affirms’)
  • published (Shakespeare meant ‘commonly recognized’)
  • to puke
  • puppy-dog
  • pushpin (Shakespeare was referring to a children’s game)
  • on purpose
  • quarrelsome
  • in question (as in ‘the … in question’)
  • radiance
  • to rant
  • rascally
  • rawboned (meaning ‘very gaunt’)
  • reclusive
  • refractory
  • reinforcement (Shakespeare meant ‘renewed force’)
  • reliance
  • remorseless
  • reprieve (as a noun)
  • resolve (as a noun)
  • restoration
  • restraint (as ‘reserve’)
  • retirement
  • to reverb (‘to re-echo’)
  • revokement (‘revocation’)
  • revolting (Shakespeare meant as ‘rebellious’)
  • to reword (Shakespeare meant ‘repeat’)
  • ring carrier (a ‘go-between’)
  • to rival (meaning to ‘compete’).
  • roadway
  • roguery
  • rose-cheeked
  • rose-lipped
  • rumination
  • ruttish
  • sanctimonious
  • to sate
  • satisfying (as an adjective)
  • savage (as ‘uncivilized’)
  • savagery
  • schoolboy
  • scrimer (‘a fence’)
  • scrubbed (Shakespeare meant ‘stunted’)
  • scuffle
  • seamy (‘seamed’) and seamy-side (Shakespeare meant ‘under-side of a garment’)
  • to secure (Shakespeare meant ‘to obtain security’)
  • self-abuse (Shakespeare meant ‘self-deception’)
  • shipwrecked (Shakespeare spelled it ‘shipwrackt’)
  • shooting star
  • shudder (as a noun)
  • silk stocking
  • silliness
  • to sire
  • skimble-skamble (‘senseless’)
  • skim milk (in quarto; ‘skim’d milk’ in the Folio)
  • slugabed
  • to sneak
  • soft-hearted
  • spectacled
  • spilth (‘something spilled’)
  • spleenful
  • sportive
  • to squabble
  • stealthy
  • stillborn
  • to subcontract (Shakespeare meant ‘to remarry’)
  • successful
  • suffocating (as an adjective)
  • to sully
  • to supervise (Shakespeare meant ‘to peruse’)
  • to swagger
  • tanling (someone with a tan)
  • tardiness
  • time-honored
  • title page
  • tortive (‘twisted’)
  • to torture
  • traditional (Shakespeare meant ‘tradition-bound’)
  • tranquil
  • transcendence
  • trippingly
  • unaccommodated
  • unappeased
  • to unbosom
  • unchanging
  • unclaimed
  • uncomfortable (sense ‘disquieting’)
  • to uncurl
  • to undervalue (Shakespeare meant ‘to judge as of lesser value’)
  • to undress
  • unearthy
  • uneducated
  • to unfool
  • unfrequented
  • ungoverned
  • ungrown
  • to unhappy
  • unhelpful
  • unhidden
  • unlicensed
  • unmitigated
  • unmusical
  • to un muzzle
  • unpolluted
  • unpremeditated
  • unpublished (Shakespeare meant ‘undisclosed’)
  • unquestionable (Shakespeare meant ‘impatient’)
  • unquestioned
  • unreal
  • unrivaled
  • unscarred
  • unscratched
  • to unsex
  • unsolicited
  • unsullied
  • unswayed (Shakespeare meant ‘unused’ and ‘ungoverned’)
  • untutored
  • unvarnished
  • unwillingness (sense ‘reluctance’)
  • upstairs
  • unsolicited
  • unvarnished
  • useful
  • useless
  • valueless
  • varied (as an adjective)
  • varletry
  • vasty
  • vulnerable
  • watchdog
  • water drop
  • water fly
  • well-behaved
  • well-bred
  • well-educated
  • well-read
  • to widen (Shakespeare meant ‘to open wide’)
  • wittolly (‘contentedly a cuckhold’)
  • worn out (Shakespeare meant ‘dearly departed’)
  • wry-necked (‘crook-necked’)
  • yelping (as an adjective)
  • zany (a clown’s sidekick or a mocking mimic)

This list is courtesy of DogWonder out of the UK. It’s a very useful list for observing the evolution of language propagated by one man. So what is the method? Combination and repurposing? Some of the words are not in use or just ridiculous but others have taken on the life that he meant them to and serve a daily purpose to describe things with a definition all his own. The method for his madness is bravery and innovation, the fortitude to take his creation and display it to the world as art that would shape the future. Few throughout history have lended so much to the world from their creativity.

 

 

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Blake is a writer who specializes in content writing and novel-length fiction.

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