Tuesday, April 22, 2014


April 23 marks a remarkable day in literary history—the day William Shakespeare may have been born (in 1564) and the day he certainly died (in 1616). There is a word for that—coincidence. For all we know, Shakespeare might have coined it.

It is difficult to know which words were created by Shakespeare and which were simply history’s first attestations of such words. Fame makes one’s contributions seem pioneering, even if they were less than so. Kind of like how some people believe Dorothy Hamill invented her haircut. (I’m well aware that there is a generation of readers who has no idea that what means). But we at Why Not Books—and one of us survived the Seventies with that very haircut—have a love of language. And we are in awe of William Shakespeare, even if some of the words he invented didn’t catch on.

Orgulous? Quatch? Foxship? Wappened? Deracinate? Hey, nobody’s perfect.

Here are 98 of our favorite words—roughly in order of preference—that we may, indeed, owe to the Immortal Bard:

1. Well-read (Henry IV)
2. Published (Henry VI)
3. Moonbeam (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
4. Bloodstained (Henry IV)
5. Arch-villain (Measure for Measure)
6. Hot-blooded (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
7. Eyeball (The Tempest)
8. Flowery (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
9. Gallantry (Troilus and Cressida)
10. Hobnob (Twelfth Night)
11. Transcendence (All’s Well That Ends Well)
12. Perplex (King John)
13. Sanctimonious (Measure for Measure)
14. Silliness (Othello)
15. Inauspicious (Romeo and Juliet)

16. Time-honored (Richard II)
17. Tranquil (Othello)
18. Unearthly (Winter’s Tale)
19. Educate (Love’s Labour’s Lost)
20. Fashionable (Timon of Athens)
21. Laughable (The Merchant of Venice)
22. Embrace (Henry VI)
23. Bold-faced (Henry VI)
24. Coldhearted (Antony and Cleopatra)
25. Bump (Romeo and Juliet)
26. Hint (Othello)
27. Besmirch (Henry V)
28. Bedazzled (The Taming of the Shrew)
29. New-fangled (Love’s Labour Lost)
30. Eyesore (The Taming of the Shrew)
31. Majestically (Henry IV)
32. Unreal (Macbeth)
33. Savagery (King John)
34. Lackluster (As You Like It)
35. Mortifying (The Merchant of Venice)
36. Satisfying (Othello)
37. Multitudinous (Macbeth)
38. Freezing (Cymbeline)
39. Dauntless (Macbeth)
40. Assassination (Macbeth)
41. Flawed (King Lear)
42. Unhand (Hamlet)
43. Unsolicited (Titus Andronicus)
44. Distasteful (Timon of Athens)
45. Puking (As You Like It)
46. Ensnare (Othello)

47. Circumstantial (As You Like It)
48. Domineering (Love’s Labour Lost)
49. Puppy-dog (King John)
50. Fitful (Macbeth)
51. Deafening (Henry IV)
52. Bedroom (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)
53. Anchovy (Henry IV)
54. Gnarled (Measure for Measure)
55. Quarrelsome (As You Like It)
56. Countless (Titus Andronicus)
57. Cruelhearted (The Two Gentlemen of Verona)
58. Uncomfortable (Romeo and Juliet)
59. Droplet (Timon of Athens)
60. Misgiving (Julius Caesar)
61. Vulnerable (Macbeth)
62. Watchdog (The Tempest)
63. Barefaced (Macbeth)
64. Pageantry (Pericles)
65. Gossip (The Comedy of Errors)
66. Distracted (Hamlet)
67. Impartial (Henry IV)
68. Fortune-teller (The Comedy of Errors)
69. Stealthy (Macbeth)
70. Dishearten (Henry V)
71. Baseless (The Tempest)

72. Unclog (Coriolanus)
73. Aerial (Othello)
74. Full-grown (Pericles)
75. Submerge (Antony and Cleopatra)
76. Belongings (Measure for Measure)
77. Bottled (Richard III)
78. Soft-hearted (Henry VI)
79. Inaudible (All’s Well That Ends Well)
80. Restoration (King Lear)
81. Dislocate (King Lear)
82. Outbreak (Hamlet)
83. Scrubbed (The Merchant of Venice)
84. Farmhouse (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
85. Leaky (Antony and Cleopatra)
86. Immediacy (King Lear)
87. Roadway (Henry IV)
88. Reclusive (Much Ado About Nothing)
89. Discontent (Richard III)
90. Tardiness (King Lear)
91. Castigate (Timon of Athens)
92. Juiced (The Merry Wives of Windsor)
93. Suffocating (Othello)
94. Undervalue (The Merchant of Venice)
95. Schoolboy (Julius Caesar)
96. Employer (Much Ado About Nothing)
97. Critic (Love’s Labours Lost)
98. Perusal (Hamlet)