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Amazing and Surprising Connections Between Words and Phrases

Like many people, the subject I disliked the most in school was English. That is mostly because I found it dry and boring. Yet, I consistently got higher marks in English than any other course subject. Counting just English, my cumulative grade point average in school would have been about a 3.99 out of a possible 4.0.  Perhaps that is because I’ve always been fascinated by word and phrase origins. Sometimes, there are some utterly amazing and surprising connections between them, too.

For example, all of the following have a solid and major connection, though it wouldn’t seem like there would be.

Eyeball

Most people know what an eyeball is. It’s that roundish thing in your head that you see with.

Fashionable

This word is commonly used to describe what is in fashion at any given time.

Cold-blooded

This term plays an important role in many mystery stories. Someone who commits cold-blooded murder does so without remorse, usually in an unemotional, calculated, and deliberate way.

Manager

Almost everyone who has held a job has had a manager at one time or another.

Belongings

Everything that belongs to you is your belongings.

Addiction

Although usually used to refer to drugs, a person can have an addiction to nearly anything that overwhelms their sense of reason. It is even possible to have a love addiction.

Eventful

People who have boring lives often which their lives were more eventful.

Inaudible

This is something that can’t be heard. To humans, the sounds made by bats for echo-location are inaudible. We can’t hear them, but bats can.

New-fangled

Something that is new in some way and this term is usually now used in a slightly derogatory way. My grandfather would have probably said that he had no use for most of the new-fangled contraptions people can’t live without today if granddad was still alive.

Scuffle

This is simply a fight, though often a minor one.

Uncomfortable

Almost everyone has been uncomfortable at one time or another and the word really doesn’t need to be explained or described. Doing so could be uncomfortable.

Hot-blooded

Most people know what this means, but it is being extremely passionate.

As mentioned, all of these have a strong connection. If you asked a hundred people what the connection was, your chances of finding even one who could answer correctly would be slim, at best. Can you guess what all of these have in common?

Every one of these was invented or popularized by William Shakespeare. All of them also appear in his works. This is only a tiny fraction of the words used for the first time or made popular by Shakespeare, too. This could be applied to over 1,200 words and phrases. Many of those were first used by Shakespeare before anyone else used them. He invented the, introduced them, and our language is replete in Shakespearean word because of it. 

  • As you read these words and terms, were you able to figure out that the connection was Shakespeare?

    • Yes
    • No
    • I’ve never read Shakespeare and haven’t seen any Shakespearean plays

What do you think?

12 points
Legend

Written by Rex Trulove

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14 Comments

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  1. I do not think that Shakespeare would have invented words from scratch that he then decided to put into his plays, although he did put word elements together in new ways – such as “new-fangled” and “eventful”. Indeed, all the words on your list fall into the categories of either “portmanteau” words or standard words with an extra suffix or prefix.

    Shakespeare was a great communicator – his plays succeeded because he was able to talk to audiences from all social classes, including the uneducated “penny stinkards” that crowded into the Globe Theatre. He therefore used words that they would understand, and sometimes took words from common parlance that had almost certainly not appeared in print before – we can’t be absolutely certain about this because many works have not survived to the present day.

    I note that you say “or popularized”. That is important to make clear in this context.

    Word invention of this kind has gone on for centuries and still continues to do so. Citizens of the United States are notorious for twisting old words into new meanings!

    • It doesn’t just happen in the US. However, I have doubts that any single person had more of an influence on the English language than William. He is credited with creating or popularizing over 1200 words. There are many more that he liked that never did gain popularity, too.

      • I wonder what the balance was between creating and popularizing? I don`t suppose there is any way of knowing, but I suspect that the latter outweighed the former. He was from “common stock” as opposed to being a “university wit” like some of his fellow playwrights of the time.

        • That’s true and he was also very prolific. That is the sort of recipe that often leads to a writer taking the initiative and creating or changing a word to fit what he wants to say when he can’t find just the right term. I suppose that could also be part of the reason why some of his contemporaries didn’t like him very much.

    • To be truthful, in school, I detested Shakespeare. I had to read many of his works, then we had to analyze them. That was the boring part…until I started realizing the connection to words that I thought were recent, not realizing that they were over 300 years old.

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