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Happy Belated Birthday, William!

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     William Shakespeare, whose birthday is celebrated on April 23, will forever live in our hearts and minds, even if we’ve never read his works. Lines from his plays roll off the tongues of even the most uneducated, and the list of words made commonplace by the bard is impressive.  There is much debate on Shakespeare actually coining words, but most authorities agree that what was conversational language of the time may have been lost had ol’ Will not included them in his writings.

According to Macrone in Brush Up Your Shakespeare, the Oxford English Dictionary credits Shakespeare as the first to use these words, among others: “arch-villain,” “bedazzle,” “cheap” (as in vulgar or flimsy), “dauntless,” “embrace” (as a noun), “fashionable,” “go-between,” “honey-tongued,” “inauspicious,” “lustrous,” “nimble-footed,” “outbreak,” “pander,” “sanctimonious,” “time-honored,” “unearthly,” “vulnerable,” and “well-bred.”  (Source: “Shakespeare’s Coined Words Now Common Currency,” National Geographic, Oct. 28, 2010)

     Shakespeare’s use of unique phrases, whether uniquely his creations or not, have withstood the test of time.  Take, for example, these phrases from Brush Up Your Shakespeare:

• Eaten out of house and home
• Pomp and circumstance
• Foregone conclusion
• Full circle
• The makings of
• Method in the madness
• Neither rhyme nor reason
• One fell swoop
• Seen better days
• It smells to heaven
• A sorry sight
• A spotless reputation
• Strange bedfellows
• The world’s (my) oyster

     On his birthday and on all days, people from “all corners of the world” (also from Shakespeare) help us to remember the man and his work simply by – well – talking.  Happy belated birthday, William!