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Neologisms by Shakespeare

Neologisms by Shakespeare

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Published by: Tikvah on Mar 16, 2009
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English 9Neologisms: Words made up by Shakespeare1) accused (in the noun form): person charged with an offenseThe word was already a verb and an adjective when Shakespeare got hold of it andmade it into a noun form in the play, Richard II:“Face to face/And frowning brow to brow ourselves will hear/The accused and theaccuser freely speak” (I.i.15-17).The word is originally from the Latin causa, meaning “cause or lawsuit.” Todayaccused commonly refers to the defendant in a lawsuit.2) blushing (as an adjective): ruddy; having the face redden with modesty or shameThe word was from a Germanic verb meaning to “burn brightly or to glow,” whenShakespeare turned it into an adjective in Richard II, when the face of the angryking is compared to “the blushing discontented sun” (III.iii.63). Shakespeare alsouses the word in his two long poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, andhis play Henry VIII.3) cater (verb): to provide food; to supply what is needed or desiredThe word, cater, comes from a Middle English noun, meaning “buyer of provisions.”An old servant in the play As You Like It tells Orlando, the play’s hero, “Takethat and He that doth the ravens feed,/Yea, providently caters for the sparrow,/Becomfort to my age!” With these words, the old man offers all his money to Orlando.4) critic (noun): one who passes judgment or expresses a reasoned opinion;reviewerIn another of Shakespeare’s plays, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Berowne, a character whomade fun of others for falling prey to love, bemoans, “I . . .have been love’swhip,/A critic, nay, a night-watch constable” (III.i.174, 176).It is understandable how Shakespeare, someone who was in the public eye andcriticized for his works, would come up with the word, critic.5) denote (verb): to define or designate; to indicateRomeo and Juliet, the play we are reading this year, is the play to first use thisword as a verb in English. The word is from the Latin, “to note or mark out,” andFriar Lawrence uses it to admonish Romeo for contemplating suicide. The Friarstates, [T]hy wild acts denote/The unreasonable fury of a beast” (III.iii.110-11).6) frugal (as an adjective): sparing; thrifty or economical; careful with moneyIn the comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Mistress Page is surprised when shereceives a love letter from someone she thinks would have been unimpressed withthe reserved manner she showed when he was in her presence. She says, “Why, hehath not been thrice in my company!”, and she adds, “I was then frugal of mymirth” (II.1.26-28).The adjective is based on the Latin frugalis, meaning “frugal or virtuous,” and isfrom the frux, meaning “fruit” or “value.”
7) gnarled (adjective): twisted or knotty; deformedThe word appears in the play Measure for Measure, when the heroine Isabella pleadson behalf of her brother to the character Angelo and addresses heaven, from whichthe power of lightning “with thy sharp and sulphurous bolt/Splits the unwedgeableand gnarled oak” (II.ii.115-116).The adjective remained unpopular until the nineteenth century when English andAmerican writers began using it.8) impede (verb): to block or hinder; to slowShakespeare uses this verb only once, in the play Macbeth, when Lady Macbeth plotsto help her husband remove the obstacles that hinder him from being king. Shesays, “All that impedes thee [Macbeth] from the golden round [the crown, thekingship]” (I.v.28). Though Shakespeare only used the verb in Macbeth, he uses thenoun form, impediment, meaning “obstacle,” more than twenty times in his works.The verb is from the Latin impedire, which means “to shackle the foot.” The rootped- or pes means “foot” and can be found in such words as pedestrian, pedal andpedigree.9) lackluster (adjective): wanting in brightness; dull; mediocreIn the play, As You Like It, Jacques describes the character of the fool, whoremoves a small sundial from his pocket. Jacques says the fool looks on thesundial “with lack-lustre eye/Says very wisely, ‘It is ten a’clock” (II.vii.21-22).Shakespeare often put the word, lack, in front of other words and came up withcompound ones, such as lack-beard, lack-brain, and lack-love. The habit probablycame from the French, who often attached sans (“without”) to nouns.Luster, on the other hand, is from the Latin verb, lustrare, “to brighten.”10) luggage (as a noun): something lugged; baggage belonging to a travelerIn 1 Henry IV, Prince Hal kills another main character, Hotspur, in battle, butHal’s advisor Falstaff finds the body and wants to claim it for a reward. Haltells Falstaff, “Come bring your luggage nobly on your back” (V.iv.156).The verb lug comes from the Middle English luggen , “to pull or drag by the hairor ear.” Here Shakespeare uses the word in its most basic sense, “something thatis lugged.” Nowadays, obviously the most common usage is “baggage belonging to atraveler.”11) majestic (adjective): having or exhibiting dignity and grandeurShakespeare debuts this word in the historical tragedy, Julius Caesar, when he hasCassius remark that he is amazed that someone as weak as Caesar should “So get thestart of the majestic world” (I.ii.130). In 1 Henry IV, Shakespeare also getscredits for using the word as an adverb, majestically.12) monumental (adjective): of great size or significance; outstanding
Shakespeare uses monument, the noun form of this word, frequently, but theadjectival form appears only three times in Shakespeare’s works. The first time isin Shakespeare’s long poem, Troilus and Cressida, where the Bard states that togive up is “to hang/Quite out of fashion, like a rusty mail [armor]/In monumentalmock’ry” (III.iii.151-53).Either the noun or adjectival form come from the Latin monere, “to remind.”13) negotiate: to confer for the purpose of reaching a settlementIn the comedy, Much Ado About Nothing, the seemingly betrayed lover Claudio saysthat from now on “all hearts in love use their own tongues./Let every eyenegotiate for itself” (II.ii.177-78).The word comes from the Latin negotiari, which means “to carry on business,” butthe Latin can be broken down even more. Neg- as a prefix means “not,” and the roototium means “leisure” or “ease.”14) numb (as a verb): to deaden or make insensibleSomething to think about the next time the dentist gives you Novocain:Shakespeare’s is the first use of the word as a transitive verb, that is, a verbthat has a direct object. In the long poem, Venus and Adonis, Shakespeare uses theword to describe the fear Venus has when she thinks her lover Adonis is killed.She feels that “cold-pale weakness numbs each feeling part” (892).The word as an adjective dates back to the fourteenth century.15) obscene (adjective): repulsive or disgusting; offensive to one’s sense ofdecencyA character who has seen another consorting with a woman comments in the comedyLove’s Labour’s Lost on how he came to “encounter that obscene and mostprepost’rous event” (I.i.241-242).The word derives from the Latin obscenus, which means “repulsive or indecent.” Theword is possibly a mixture of the prefix ob-, meaning “toward,” and caenum,“filth.”16) perusal (noun): survey or close examination; act of reading through or overIn the tragedy Hamlet, Ophelia describes to her father how Hamlet entered herrooms and fell to “such perusal of my face/As ‘a would draw it” (II.i.87-88).Perusal is from the verb peruse, which may be a combination of the Latin prefix,per-, “through” or “thoroughly,” and the Middle English usen, “to use.”17) puke (verb): to vomitShakespeare gets credit for the first appearance of this word in the comedy As YouLike It, when the character of Jacques describes the stages of a man’s life, thefirst one being when he is an infant, “Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms”(II.vii.144).The word’s origin is unclear. It may be from the Old English spiwan, “to spew orspit.”18) rant (verb): to speak in bombastic or extravagant language; to talk

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