The History of English in ten minutes. Chapter
3: Shakespeare, or a plaque on both his houses. As the dictionary tells us about 2000 new
words and phrases were invented by William Shakespeare. He gave us handy words like eyeball,
puppy dog and anchovy and more show-offy words like dauntless, besmirch and lacklustre. He
came up with the word alligator, soon after he ran out of things to rhyme with crocodile
and a nation of tea drinkers finally took him to their hearts when he invented the hob-nob.
Shakespeare knew the power of catchphrases as well as biscuits, without him we would
never eat our flesh and blood out of house and home, we would have to say good riddance
to the green-eyed monster and breaking the ice would be as dead as a door nail. If you
try to get your money’s worth, you would be given short shrift and any one who laid it
on with a trowel could be hoist with his own petard. Of course it is possible that other
people used these words first, but the dictionary writers liked looking them up in Shakespeare
cos there was more cross dressing and people taking each other’s eyes out. Shakespeare’s
poetry showed the world that English was a rich, vibrant language with limitless expressive
and emotional power and he still had time to open all those tea rooms in Stratford.