10 Shakespeare Words And Phrases
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You Can Thank William Shakespeare For Gracing Our Language With 'Swagger' And These Other 9 Words

Knock knock. Who's there? Not the devil, he's with Macbeth today.

You Can Thank William Shakespeare For Gracing Our Language With 'Swagger' And These Other 9 Words

Coming from someone who is studying to teach English, it probably comes as no surprise that I really enjoy reading Shakespeare. I've taken three classes, soon to be four, to study Shakespeare (it seems like a lot, I know). Something that is always talked about is Shakespeare, for his time, had an unconventional way of creating words and phrases. The number of words that he invented has been argued, and scholars have traced the origin of over 1,600 words in the Oxford English Dictionary.

1. "Rant" - Macbeth

"Singeing his pate against the burning zone, Make Ossa like a wart! Nay, an thou'lt mouth, I'll rant as well as thou." (Act 5, Scene 1)

I use this word all the time, in Shakespearian time, he just meant 'talk' but at this time it just means ongoing talking. And more talking. And more talking...

2. "Too Much of a Good Thing" - As You Like It

"Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?— Come, sister, you shall be the priest and marry us.—Give me your hand, Orlando.—What do you say, sister?" (Act 4, Scene 1)

This is pretty self-explanatory, and yet another thing I hear all the time, except I don't use it. My mom does!

3. "Jaded" - King Henry VI

"And from this fellow? if we live thus tamely, to be thus jaded by a piece of scarlet, Farewell nobility; let his grace go forward,

And dare us with his cap like larks." (Act 3 Scene 2)Personally, I don't use this term a lot to describe others, but I find it really interesting that Shakespeare used it in just about the same way that we could at this time!

4. "A Wild Goose Chase" - Romeo and Juliet

"Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done, for thou hast more of the wild-goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five. Was I with you there for the goose? " (Act 2, Scene 4)

Who can talk about Shakespeare without talking about Romeo and Juliet? This line is followed by a long "wild-goose" metaphor, but all in the same I used to hear my grandmother say this all the time. I think this phrase may be dying out, but for it to be around since the Shakespearian time would be a great feat for a phrase!

5. "Assassination" - Macbeth

"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere wellIt were done quickly. If the assassination could trammel up the consequence, and catch with his surcease success; that but this blow might be the be-all and the end-all here..." (Act 1, Scene 7)

For as much as we have used this word in media and such, it was a shock to me that this is one of the words that Shakespeare invented.

6. "Knock knock! Who's there?" - Macbeth

"Knock, knock, knock! Who's there, i' th' name of Beelzebub? Here's a farmer that hanged himself on the expectation of plenty. Come in time, have napkins enough about you, here you'll sweat for 't." (Act 2, Scene 3)

I believe this could have been the very start of where knock knock jokes came from. Knock knock. Who's there? Not the devil, he's with Macbeth today.

7. "Swagger" - Henry V

"Hang him, swaggering rascal! Let him not come hither; it the foul-mouth'dst rogue in England." (Part 2, Act 2, Scene 4)

I personally don't see this word used much in my life anymore, but I think it refers to style nowadays. In Shakespeare talk, it just means 'hot-tempered'

8. "There's method in my madness" - Hamlet

"(aside) Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.—(to HAMLET) Will you walk out of the air, my lord?" (Act 2, Scene 2)

I literally say this every day at work. It's interesting looking at the original phrase and seeing what it turns into after the years!

9. "All of a sudden" - The Taming of the Shrew

"Is it possible that love should of a sudden take such hold?" (Act 1, Scene 1)

I swear, as I was writing this I heard the phrase 'all of a sudden' three times from the TV show that I was watching and twice from my parents.

10. "Lonely" - Coriolanus

"Believe't not lightly—though I go alone, Like to a lonely dragon, that his fen Makes fear'd and talk'd of more than seen—your son Will or exceed the common or be caught With cautelous baits and practise." (Act 4, Scene 3)

At the end of the day, I feel like this word is one of the most common of all the words Shakespeare invented. Think about it, how many times have you said you or someone else is lonely?

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