Top List of Words Invented by Shakespeare: 53 Surprising Words Created by William Shakespeare

Check out our top list of words invented by Shakespeare in this article.

“Let there be gall enough in thy ink, though thou write with a goose-pen, no matter.”

William Shakespeare

Heralded by many as the greatest writer of all time, William Shakespeare didn’t hesitate when he struggled to find the right word. Instead, he invented new ones. More than 1,700 words are said to have been invented by The Bard; here are influential words invented by Shakespeare.

What Are Words Invented by Shakespeare?

Top list of words invented by Shakespeare
More than 1,700 words are said to have been invented by The Bard

It’s impossible to imagine existing in a time when dictionaries did not exist, but this was Shakespeare’s reality. The famed playwright is credited with inventing an incredible amount of words, but some scholars argue that he was simply the first to put these “new” words in print. Here, we’ll look at the common (and not-so-common) words attributed to Shakespeare. If you’re interested in this topic, you’ll love our article that asks, “Is Macbeth a tragic hero?


Commonly Used Words Invented by Shakespeare

These words made it from Shakespeare’s works into day-to-day language, and he likely was the first to develop many of them.

1. Accommodation

I took my time finding the proper accommodation before heading down to the beach for the weekend, as I wanted to make sure I had a comfortable place to stay before I hit the road.

2. Aerial

She glanced up at the aerial display hanging from the ceiling of the museum lobby, delighted at how the small mirrors twirled on their strings, reflecting light in all directions.

3. Amazement

Erica watched in amazement as Stella’s game-winning home run sailed over the fence, solidifying their place in the state finals. 

4. Anchovy

“Believe it or not, it’s perfectly fine to eat the entire anchovy; you can’t even taste the bones,” remarked Otto as he tried to convince his fellow diners to be adventurous with their pizza toppings.

5. Apostrophe

One of Linda’s first-date tests involved discovering whether her love interest could properly use an apostrophe; she always tried to see whether they knew the difference between they’re and there. 

6. Assassination

The creation of the United States Secret Service occurred after an assassination attempt on President William McKinley, as Congress wanted to work to protect the lives of the country’s leaders.

7. Barefaced

Steve hated when Anna wore makeup, as he preferred her natural barefaced beauty to what seemed like pounds of eyeliner and lipstick.

8. Beachy

Every summer, Maryann loved the beachy feeling she got when she drove into Cape May as she felt the salt air hit her lungs. 

9. Bloody

Kyle felt like a bloody fool when he realized that he wasn’t what Debra wanted; she was after his best friend all along.

10. Catlike

Officer Gabriel turned his police radio off as he worked to take catlike steps, silently sneaking up on the intruder without alerting him to his presence. 

11. Cold-Blooded

Conroy’s ability to turn on his girlfriend without a second thought was nothing short of cold-blooded, and Monica wondered whether he actually loved her at all. 

12. Control (as a noun)

She knew how to take control of the room when she walked in to lead a meeting, and her attendees quickly quieted down as soon as they saw her head up to the podium.

13. Countless

Alicia told her mom countless times that she didn’t want to go to the family reunion, but the requests never stopped coming.

14. Critical

Jane was always critical of her brother Fletcher, no matter how hard he tried to make her happy. 

15. Dishearten

It was disheartening for Shannon to think that her son was moving across the country, but she was excited for him to have the opportunity to jump-start his new career. 

16. Dislocate

When Maria fell, she noticed a familiar pain, as it wasn’t the first time she had dislocated her shoulder. 

17. Dewdrop

Ellie marveled as she looked out her front door as the morning sun danced on the dewdrops that sprinkled the clover on either side of her sidewalk.

18. Dwindle

Larry hoped he could keep his restaurant afloat, but the dwindling returns due to bad online reviews made it hard for him to believe he’d make a comeback.

19. Employer

Today’s employers are working harder to keep their employees happy, and programs like employee wellness clubs can make it easier to promote well-being in the office.

20. Eventful

It was an eventful day; the dog caught a squirrel, the in-laws stopped by unexpectedly, and Brayden returned home from his first day of 6th grade to announce that he had decided to join the school’s skateboarding club. 

21. Frugal

No matter how much money she built up in her savings account, Veronica still felt most comfortable being frugal by using coupons at the grocery store and taking advantage of big-box sales. 

22. Generous

Todd was known to be generous to his friends and family, inviting them on lavish vacations and footing the bill. 

23. Gloomy

As Tara looked outside her office window, she couldn’t believe the gloomy look the day had taken on – the sky had turned a sad shade of gray, and it was hard to believe that raindrops weren’t already hitting the pavement of the parking lot. 

24. Impartial

The judge struggled to remain impartial as she pondered sentencing for the kidnapper, as she felt intense sympathy for what the parents had gone through.

25. Laughable

The officer had to chuckle to himself as the man he pulled over tried to get out of the ticket. It wasn’t every day that he got to listen to someone concoct such a laughable story about why they were speeding.

26. Lonely

Trying to fit in wasn’t what scared Rachel the most; it was dealing with the lonely feeling she worried would hit her late at night in her dorm room.

27. Monumental

Allison knew she was making a monumental decision for her family when deciding whether going back to school for her doctorate was the right choice.

28. Published

Linda was proud to have her poems published in a magazine, but she still had her eyes set on the ultimate goal of writing her novel. 

29. Premeditated

The jury deliberated for hours over whether the incident was premeditated, as it was difficult to tell whether the perpetrator had planned the crime ahead of time. 

30. Priceless

Jack looked at his daughter’s smile and knew whether he got the raise at work or not, he already had the most priceless thing in the world. 

31. Radiance

Calvin was amazed by the radiance of the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean.

32. Rumination

When Lindsey gets worried about her performance at work, she reminds herself not to fall into rumination; dwelling on the things she’s worried about always seems to make it harder to focus on the good parts of the day. 

33. Sanctimonious

Olivia got frustrated when her mom tried to tell her what to do in her relationships; she didn’t need any advice. 

34. Satisfying

Unwrapping her candy bar, Delilah let out a satisfying sigh as she awaited her well-deserved sugar rush after an exhausting day at work. 

35. Shipwrecked

Divers continue to explore the shipwrecked Titanic, discovering artifacts from the early 1900s that provide a glimpse into what life was like for passengers traveling from Europe to the United States. 

36. Stealthy

Silas was a stealthy dog; he easily stole chicken pieces from the kitchen counter as Gabe worked to make a salad for the BBQ. 

37. Tranquil

Elise took a deep breath as she stood on her balcony and watched the dolphins play in the tranquil ocean, coming up for breaths every few minutes as they dove through the relentless waves.

38. Zany

Justin was known for being a zany five-year-old, but his teacher loved how he could put his silliness aside and show empathy when a kindergarten classmate was struggling.

Lesser-Known Words Invented by Shakespeare

These words invented by Shakespeare aren’t quite as common, but literary buffs will likely recognize them from the Bard’s works.

39. Armguant

The monster had armgaunt limbs and snow-white skin.

40. Auspicious

The stars aligned as Derrick began to plot his auspicious run for mayor; from party support to being well-liked in his community, it seemed like the election was a sure thing.

41. Bachelorship

Robert reveled in his newfound bachelorship, coming and going as he pleased, without having to deal with the arguments that had plagued his eight-year marriage, despite his best efforts to make things right.

42. Castigate

Ronald was castigated by his boss after he lost the big deal; his mistakes were going to make it nearly impossible for the company to hit its yearly financial goals, and his boss wanted to make sure he didn’t make a similar mistake again.

43. Changeful

Clementine’s feelings toward Harry were changeful, as she couldn’t quite decide whether she wanted to be with him long-term or keep things light and noncommittal. 

44. Clangor

The sudden clangor of the Christmas bells woke Charles, and he ran downstairs to see whether Santa had made it through the blizzard to deliver the new train track he’d asked for.

45. Dexterously

The audience watched as Jane took the stage and sat down behind her cello, then dexterously ran her fingers across the strings, creating beautiful music that seemed to come from the heavens. 

46. Eftest

It was hard to decide what was the eftest way to get to the mall, but Gary figured it would be faster to hop on the highway instead of taking back roads. 

47. Fitful

The puppy tried to fall asleep but found himself fitful as he tried to settle into his new home, waking at irregular intervals and unable to keep a steady schedule.

48. Impeticos

Margaret stealthily impeticosed the bills, tucking them away in her pocket to spend at a later date.

49. Insisture

Debby’s insisture that we take the ferry instead of the subway made sense, but no one wanted to make the walk to the edge of the water.

50. Invulnerable

The tank was invulnerable to the enemy troops, no matter how many times they shot in an attempt to damage the vessel.

51. Palmy

In the palmy 1920s, businesses enjoyed a rush of success as Prohibition was lifted.

52. Perusal

Monica continued her perusal of the newspaper, searching for a positive review of the restaurant she was interested in visiting that evening.

53. Pioned

Onlookers admired the beauty queen’s pioned hair, wondering how it was possible to involve that many flowers into an updo. 

Looking for more? Check out our round-up of essays about Macbeth!