“Swagger” and 23 More Words Invented By Shakespeare

22 February 2023
By Sarah Angela Almaden
Japanese House
Francis Godolphin Waldron

Do you ever wonder if William Shakespeare was ever called Billy by his mates? Or would he even like to have been called Billie with an -ie ending? Or Willy on special occasions? Wait, maybe he came up with a very Shakespearean nickname and all his close friends and family called him by his very Shakespearean nickname! Ooh, wonder what that would have been like. Anyway, if you happen to know what quirky nicknames this Sweet Swan of Avon went by around his time, please slide into our DMs and share with us the info. Thank you.

We know that Shakespeare is highly recognized for his multitudinous (thanks Shakespeare for the introduction of this word) literary works, which contain roughly 20,000 words in total. Yes, just to repeat: all of his poems and plays combined use about 20,000 words. We know! What a number, huh? Well, about 1,700 of those words are even believed to have been “invented” by this great Bard of Avon. To be fair, these words may have already been used a lot around that time and Shakespeare just so happens to be the first one to ever use them in his writing. Nevertheless, these thousands of “Shakespeare-invented words” have become the foundation of many common English words. Would you like to learn more about these terms that the one and only Bard popularized? Then, read on!

  1. Lonely: feeling sad due to lack of companionship — Coriolanus
  2. Kissing: touching with the lips — Love's Labour's Lost
  3. Puppy dog: a young dog — King John
  4. Skim milk: milk that is free from any cream and fat — Henry IV Part 1
  5. Zany: a clown or acrobat in old comedies — Love's Labour's Lost
  6. Fashionable: trendy — Troilus and Cressida
  7. Eyeballs: eyes — As You Like It
  8. Frugal: cheap — Merry Wives of Windsor
  9. Pell-mell:in a frenzied rush — Love’s Labour’s Lost
  10. Swagger: extreme confidence — Henry V
  11. Bedazzled: to impress someone; bright sunlight — The Taming of the Shrew
  12. Accommodation: settlement, adjustment — Measure for Measure
  13. Dire: very serious — Comedy of Errors
  14. Pedant: someone who emphasizes unnecessary details — Twelfth Night
  15. Critical: likely to give harsh judgments — Othello
  16. Dawn: sunrise — Henry V
  17. Alligator: a large reptile related to the crocodile — Romeo and Juliet
  18. Lackluster: dull — As You Like It
  19. Modest: humble — Coriolanus
  20. Undress: to remove someone’s clothes — The Taming of the Shrew
  21. Bandit: a robber — Henry VI
  22. Dauntless: fearless — Henry VI
  23. Anchovy: a type of small fish — Henry IV
  24. Auspicious: something favorable — Love’s Labour’s Lost