Words and phrases we should thank Shakespeare for
This April 23rd marks 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. And while not many things stay in style for four centuries, Shakespeare’s plays are are still going strong.
Not convinced stuffy old sonnets are still considered cool? Don’t write off the bard quite yet. You may have heard that Shakespeare invented an estimated 1,700 words we still use today, but you probably don’t realize just how many of them you use in your day-to-day life. And that’s not even counting the phrases!
On the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, it’s only fitting to take a moment to remember all the wacky words and phrases we use because of his life:
Surprisingly, this word wasn’t invented to describe the millennial generation. So next time your parents start complaining about how jaded we’ve all become, let them know that Shakespeare was the most jaded of us all.
If you said “good riddance” when you finally finished reading one of Shakespeare’s plays for class, you were actually praising the man with a phrase of his own invention.
Only Shakespeare could have come up with a word that sounds just as gross as the act itself. From the hard “p” and “k” sounds to the stomach-turning hard “u,” “puking” is practically an onomatopoeia.
You may immediately think of the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland when you hear this one, but it was actually a different fictional character who first uttered the words: Richard III.
You can officially blame Shakespeare for all of your dad’s awful knock-knock jokes. (Though, to be fair, they probably would have been funnier if Shakespeare had written them.)
The phrase may have switched order since Shakespeare’s time, but Macbeth was the first person to wonder if his predicament was the end-all be-all. He was pondering the question when he was choosing whether to assassinate someone — which is a good reminder to all of us since that no, our choices are often not the end-all be-all, so we might as well stop worrying about them so much.
It shouldn’t surprise you that the writer of the most famous love story of all time is also responsible for this gem. Whether the statement is true or not, it certainly is catchy.
While Shakespeare can’t be credited with turning this adjective into a verb (the rhinestone industry did that), he did create the word to describe the sun’s gleam. Of course, he never could have guessed the ways this word would be adapted over the years — and he might just turn over in his grave if he heard about “vajazzling.”
Can you imagine a world without this word? What would the tabloids talk about? Luckily, Shakespeare was the first one to know that letting a man follow where “his addiction leads him” would make a good story.
Believe it or not, Shakespeare was the original inventor of the icebreaker. And while he might not have been talking about starting a Tinder conversation, it was about trying to win over a hard-to-please woman. (The Taming of the Shrew is the play “10 Things I Hate About You” is based off of, and I highly recommend watching a young Heath Ledger break the ice at any time.)
Yet another word the magazines owe to Shakespeare. Fashion may have been around long before Shakespeare, but he was the first truly “fashionable” man.
No, Justin Bieber isn’t the inventor of “swag”. It’s the true master swagger Shakespeare himself who coined the term in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. — and then recognized how cool it was and used it again in Henry V.
Even Bieber can’t deny — 400 years after his death, Shakespeare still has swagger.