Shakespeare often behaved less like a writer, and more like a chemist combining elements. He conducted word experiments—smashing words together, combining them. As a result, he invented many new words that had never been used before in print or on stage. Many of these new word combinations stuck and are still used today. Some examples are words like “uncomfortable,” “unreal,” and “eyeball,” as well as phrases like “what’s done is done,” “dead as a doornail,” “it’s Greek to me,” “love is blind,” and the classic joke-starter “knock knock, who’s there.”
Somehow, Shakespeare was able to create new phrases that stick in your mind, and now it seems as if they have always existed.
Check out this video in which Christopher Gaze goes through some of the MANY words and phrases Shakespeare created that live on in modern English. How many of them do you recognize?