Shakespeare was familiar with seven foreign languages and often quoted them directly in his plays. His vocabulary was the largest of any writer, at over twenty-four thousand words. According to James Davie Butler, the total vocabulary of Miltons poetical remains is more nearly seventeen than eighteen thousand (17,377); and that of Homer, including the hymns as well as both
, is scarcely nine thousand. Five thousand eight hundred and sixty words exhaust the vocabulary of Dantes
by Alexander Schmidt (1902). For words Shakespeare used only once, please see
For more words that Shakespeare coined please see the
Shakespeare-lexicon: A Complete Dictionary of All the English Words, Phrases and Constructions in the Works of the Poet
Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the English Language
The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original. Below is a list of a few of the words Shakespeare coined, hyperlinked to the play and scene from which it comes. When the word appears in multiple plays, the link will take you to the play in which it first appears. For a more in-depth look at Shakespeares coined words,please click here.