Like Precalculus and Newton's laws, Shakespeare's plays are among the most groaned-about high school topics, begetting the complaint: "When will I ever need to know about this in real life ?" Turns out, pretty often. Shakespeare can be credited for the invention of thousands of words that are now an everyday part of the English language (including, but not limited to, "eyeball," "fashionable," and "manager.")
In addition to his being a particularly clever wordsmith, Shakespeare's word invention can be credited to the fact that the English language as a whole was in a major state of flux during the time that he was writing. Colonization and wars meant that English speakers were borrowing more and more words from other languages.
It's hard to say whether or not Shakespeare was the first to use many of these words, but in most cases he has long been believed to be the first to write them (although the widespread digitization of books has led to a few interesting discoveries from earlier sources .)
So before you dismiss Shakespeare as a stodgy, boring alternative to more contemporary writers, remember that you have him to thank for the popularization of the following words. and around 1,700 in total!
Gloomy Definition: Somewhat dark: not bright or sunny Origin: "To gloom" was a verb that existed before Shakespeare converted the word into an adjective in a number of his plays. Quote: "Forced in the ruthless, vast, and gloomy woods?" - Titus Andronicus
Laughable Definition: Bad in a way that seems foolish or silly Origin: Derived from the verb "laugh." Quote: "Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable." - The Merchant of Venice
Majestic Definition: Large and impressively beautiful Origin: From "majesty," which appeared in the 1300s, meaning "greatness." "Majestical" was first used in the 1570s. Quote: "This is a most majestic vision" - The Tempest
Lonely Definition: Sad from being apart from other people Origin: "Alone" was first shortened to "lone" in the 1400s. Quote: "Believe't not lightly – though I go alone / Like to a lonely dragon that his fen -Coriolanus
Radiance Definition: A quality of brightness and happiness that can be seen on a person's face Origin: Derived from the
Latin "radiantem," meaning "beaming." Quote: "For by the sacred radiance of the sun" - King Lear
Hurry Definition: Move or act with haste; rush Origin: Likely derived from the verb "harry" Quote: "Lives, honors, lands, and all hurry to loss." - Henry VI Part 1
Generous Definition: Freely giving or sharing money and other valuable things Origin: From the Latin "generosus," meaning "of noble birth." Quote: "Free me so far in your most generous thoughts / That I have shot mine arrow o'er the house / And hurt my brother." - Hamlet
Frugal Definition: Careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to Origin: From the Latin "frugi," meaning "useful, proper, worthy, honest." Quote: "Chid I for that at frugal Nature's frame?" - Much Ado About Nothing
Critical Definition: Expressing criticism or disapproval Origin: From the Latin "criticus," which referred specifically to a literary critic. Quote: "For I am nothing if not critical" - Othello
Courtship Definition: The activities that occur when people are developing a romantic relationship that could lead to marriage or the period of time when such activities occur Origin: "Court" was first used to mean "woo" in the 1570s; prior, it was used to mean "king's court, princely residence," derived from the French "cort." Quote: "To courtship and such fair ostents of love" - The Merchant of Venice
Zany Definition: Amusingly unconventional and idiosyncratic Origin: Derived from the Italian "zani," which came from "Zanni," a version of the name "Giovanni." Quote: "Some carry-tale, some please-man, some slight zany" - Love's Labour's Lost
Undress Definition: To take your clothes off Origin: "Dress" comes from the Old French "dresser," meaning "prepare, arrange, straighten, put right." Shakespeare was the first to add the prefix "un-." Quote: "Madam, undress you and come now to bed." - The Taming of the Shrew
Rant Definition: To talk loudly and in a way that shows anger: to complain in a way that is unreasonable Origin: Derived from the Dutch "randten," meaning "talk foolishly." Quote: "I'll rant as well as thou." - Hamlet
CLARIFICATION: This post has been modified to reflect varying views about the nature of word origins.