Quiz: Can You Guess the Word Coined by Shakespeare?

You can hear the influence of the Bard in everyday conversations.
We have Shakespeare to thank for a whole bunch of words.
We have Shakespeare to thank for a whole bunch of words. / Hulton Archive/Getty Images (Shakespeare), Vadim Almiev/Shutterstock (illustrated scrolls)

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the works of William Shakespeare, you’ve probably quoted him. Phrases like wild goose chase, good riddance, and heart of gold were all popularized by the 16th century playwright. Works like Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, and others live on, all of them offering dialogue that endures. See if you can spot which words the Bard introduced to our lexicon.

Shakespeare passed in 1616, and it’s possible many of his works (and words) may have perished with him if not for the efforts of two friends, John Heminge and Henry Condell, who compiled his plays for a 1623 tome titled Mr. William Shakespeares [sic] Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. The book collected 36 works in all, 18 of which had never before been seen in print. It also contains an engraved portrait of Shakespeare, the likeness of which was verified as accurate by his contemporaries.

Still, conspiracy theories about Shakespeare being a pen name endure. Some believe Francis Bacon was the author; others believe multiple writers assumed the pseudonym. The most audacious premise? That Shakespeare was too good a scribe to be human and that he must have been of alien origin.

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