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Coined by Shakespeare: Words and Meanings First Penned by the Bard Hardcover – 10 Sep 2008

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Merriam-Webster; First Edition edition (10 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877793530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877793533
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 13.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 991,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


>From assassination to zany, entries explain the source of each word, their modern history, and their precise location within Shakespeare's works. Quizzes interspersed throughout test bardophiles on their knowledge of first lines and other trivia. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had already bought this book for myself and I was so pleased with it that I bought it as a small present for a member of a writing group I belong to. It is invaluable, seeing where the words originated, especially as I am a Tour Guide.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
A little Shakespeare dictionary 24 Mar. 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This little book (from Merriam Webster, the big dictionary people) is definitely fun. It is part of a series about how words have been used in different times and places. This volume concentrates on the words "invented" by Shakespeare - the authors estimate that there are in the vicinity of 1,500 such words and this book probably includes a couple hundred examples. Admittedly, there is lots of room for judgement here and sometimes the authors note that, but many times they state theories as fact. This tendency keeps my rating below five stars. The book is organized with a chapter for each letter of the alphabet - and a Shakespeare trivia quiz at the end of each chapter. Again, fun, but beware of theories - on the other hand, maybe one of these questions will make it to "Do You Want To Be A Millionaire?". It is not a book for reading straight through, but it is perfect to fill short periods here and there that keep you waiting. You will be amazed at the words included such as ADVERTISING, ALLIGATOR, INVESTMENT, OBSCENE, PUKE, PUPPY DOG and ZANY. There are also some examples that you probably won't recognize. The text gives sites for the usage in Shakespeare's plays. If you are interested enough in this subject to have made it to the end of this review, then buy it, its worth the price.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A scholarly book in tune 10 Mar. 2002
By John R. Bridell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book for myself and a copy for my granddaughter, age 13. She had played a leading role in Midsummer's Night two year's ago at her St. Paul elementary school. The experience won her over to Shakespeare. Since I didn't start reading Shakespeare before age 18, I wondered if Coined by Shakespeare would be too far out-of-tune with the romance novels that she was devouring. Well, I've read it now. It is a dandy. A real banger, as Hardy would put it. Rarely does a scholarly book meet the needs of anyone less versed than a PhD. This book, I'm making wager, will charm a 13 year old word lover. We just finished a Minnesota blizzard. I'm tickled that Shakespeare coined "gust."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A light-hearted look at Shakespearean invention 23 Jun. 2012
By L. Power - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
According to various sources approximately 1531 words were first coined by Shakespeare. The leading resource on this appears be the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which, if you leaf through it, you will find highlighted entries, showing who first used these particular words and quoting the play or poem where they were used.

By comparison this book, 274 pages long is composed of chapters on each letter, including quizzes, some pictures, an estimated coverage of one and a half words per page, with examples of usage and sometimes ontology, and is a somewhat light hearted look at the use of language, covering 450 to 490 words.

You may not know for example that the following words, according to the authors were coined by Shakespeare:

Accused, addiction, advertising, auspicious, bandit, baseless, bet, buzzer, courtship, dawn, denote, design, elbow, embrace, engagement, eyeball, fashionable, film, flawed, forward, generous, gloomy, glow, go-between, green-eyed (as in monster), gust, high-pitched (Rape of Lucrece), hint, hush, impede, inaudible, investment, jet, jig, kickshaw, kissing (really?), lackluster, lapse, launder, lonely, lower, luggage, manager, marketable, metamorphise, misquote, monumental, mimic, negotiate, noiseless, numb.

Obscene, ode, outbreak, Olympian, pageantry, pedant, perusal, premeditated, promethean, radiance, rant,roadway, reclusive, remorseless, retirement, rival, roadway,rumination, sacrificial, sanctimonious, scuffle, secure, shooting star, stealthy, switch, splitting, swagger, tardiness, threatingly, torture (2 Henry VI), tranquil, transcendence, unaware (V &A), unclog, undress (TTS), unmitigated, unreal, urging, varied, vaulting, watchdog,, weel-behaved, widen, widowed, wild-goose chase (RJ), worm-hole (RL), worthless, yelping (1H IV), yoking (VA), zany.

If you read this this book I think you will find it both informative, and entertaining. Why I do not give it a higher number of stars is that I was hoping for a book that includes all the words, so for me this book has a limited appeal and value. The subject is quite interesting.

I have researched several of the words published as originated by Shakespeare, in the Oxford edition, and elsewhere. Some words such as jet mentioned above were used by Greene, some coined by Marlowe faceless, light-borne, lineage, sweet-flowering, undecked, so there are some errors in attribution. Undoubtedly words such as kissing must have existed before they were first used in a play or a poem, nevertheless it is interesting to explore the origins.

I think you will find it enlightening, and there do not appear to be any inexpensive alternatives. One book I recommend is Shakespeare's Wordcraft (Softcover), which includes the use of Shakespearean language patterns, not specifically about coinage although some examples are included.

If you decide to get it, I think you will quite like it, and I hope this was helpful.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Clever. 6 Mar. 2007
By Bruce Oksol - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Do you find yourself at a loss for "cocktail chatter" when you attend parties as part of the "rent-a crowd"? This might help you, but I doubt it. I just can't imagine bringing up Shakespearian inventions in any social setting these days.

I won't repeat what previous reviewers have written. This is simply a clever little book that you will enjoy paging through, reading random entries, while procrastinating to do something more important. Only Shakespearian geeks will truly enjoy it; I read some of it to my highly educated wife and she seemed not interested. I love it.
Essential for your classroom 20 May 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
You've heard too many times that Shakespeare coined thousands of words... but what were they? This book brings to light all of Shakespeare's neologisms-- some we use on a daily basis.

Your students will love learning about these words--some dusty and strange sounding, some so common it's almost laughable.
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