33 Lamentable Words Coined by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare invented as many as 1,700 words during his lifetime. While there is debate about which ones were really his, we’ve collected 33 lamentable words below that were definitely coined by the Bard of Avon.


When it comes to the English language and storytelling, it’s hard to overstate the impact of William Shakespeare—even while acknowledging he’s the greatest of all time. In addition to using several story structures that are still used today, he invented hundreds of words.

(8 ways William Shakespeare can make you a better writer.)

Some people credit Shakespeare with inventing more than 1,700 words; others say it was closer to 400. Regardless of which camp is correct, our list of 33 lamentable words coined by William Shakespeare below is on the “yep, he definitely coined that word” list. And they’re on the lamentable list, because all of these words are a bit on the negative connotation side. Enjoy!


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33 Lamentable Words Coined by William Shakespeare

Here’s our lamentable, revolting, and possibly useless list of Shakespearean word inventions (with a few extra words tossed in for good measure).

    1. arch-villain
    2. batty
    3. bloodstained
    4. cold-blooded (also “coldhearted” and “hot-blooded”)
    5. distrustful
    6. fanged (also “bloodsucking”)
    7. fortune-teller
    8. foul mouthed
    9. fretful
    10. grime
    11. hostile
    12. howl
    13. hunchbacked
    14. ill-used (also “ill-tempered” and “useless”)
    15. jaded
    16. lament
    17. lonely
    18. misgiving
    19. mortifying
    20. neglect
    21. obscene
    22. outbreak
    23. quarrelsome
    24. reclusive
    25. remorseless
    26. revolting
    27. savage (also “savagery”)
    28. self-abuse
    29. shipwrecked
    30. shudder
    31. suffocating
    32. vulnerable
    33. yelping

If you were one of those folks who had any misgivings about Shakespeare’s importance to the English language, imagine a world without the words listed above. While others may be jaded, I shudder to think of the suffocating nature of discussing our lonely, vulnerable lives of neglect without the ability to howl about the mortifying outbreak of foul-mouthed adjectives offered up by the Bard of Avon.

So tip your cap and maybe use a word or three in your next story or poem.

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Robert Lee Brewer

About Robert Lee Brewer

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Editor of Writer's Digest, which includes editing Writer's Market, Poet's Market, and Guide to Literary Agents. He's the author of Solving the World's Problems and Smash Poetry Journal. He loves blogging on a variety of writing and publishing topics, but he's most active with Poetic Asides and writes a column under the same name for Writer's Digest magazine. Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

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