uniquepov (uniquepov) wrote in 1word1day,

Shakespearean Imagination

Neighbors, what cheer?

Greetings from your new Wednesday poster! First, let me apologise for the lateness - I was unavoidably detained yesterday and unable to post, but going forward, every Wednesday I'll be posting about a word or phrase that is credited as having been coined by Shakespeare. For fun, I may also delve into some words and phrases that are commonly misattributed to Shakespeare, as well, but for now we'll just see how it goes.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is credited with creating approximately 1700 words that are still in common usage today. He invented new words and also re-purposed existing words in new ways (for example, using an existing noun as a verb). While mythology holds that Shakespeare's vocabulary was between 2-3 times greater than that of his contemporaries, recent scholarly examination suggests that both his vocabulary and his rate of introducing new words into the language was actually on par with other writers of his day. However, Shakespeare was an exceptionally prolific writer, and far more of his works survived than those of his contemporaries. Additionally, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), considered to be the expert source on the use and history of the English language, may have had some bias towards the Bard, reading and analysing his works more carefully than those of his peers.

These factors notwithstanding, Shakespeare's influence on the English language - and on popular culture - cannot be denied. Personally, I believe that it is his ability to use commonplace words to uncommon effect, perhaps even more than his ability to create new language, which we should hold in esteem.

For example - "What's in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet." - not a coined or unusual word in the lot, and yet...

Right, then! If I haven't lost you yet, I am now proud to bring you the first Shakespearean Imagination Word of the Day:

amazement : a·maze·ment /əˈmāzmənt/ (n) : A feeling of great surprise or wonder.

Synonyms: astonishment - surprise - wonder - wonderment - daze

First seen in Shakespeare's King John (written 1596-1597). The full text of the play may be found here.
Tags: english, literature, noun, shakespeare, theme: shakespeare, wordsmith: uniquepov

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