A (Very) Brief History of the English Language

Many students having difficulty understanding Shakespeare would be surprised to learn that he wrote in modern English. But, as can be seen in the earlier example of the Lord’s Prayer, Elizabethan English has much more in common with our language today than it does with the language of Chaucer. Many familiar words and phrases were coined or first recorded by Shakespeare, some 2,000 words and countless catch-phrases are his. Newcomers to Shakespeare are often shocked at the number of cliches contained in his plays, until they realize that he coined them and they became cliches afterwards. “One fell swoop,” “vanish into thin air,” and “flesh and blood” are all Shakespeare’s. Words he bequeathed to the language include “critical,” “leapfrog,” “majestic,” “dwindle,” and “pedant.” —A (Very) Brief History of the English Language (WordOrigins.org)

And don’t forget the insults, as dished out by the Authentic Shakespeare Insults server… or, construct your own to send to some roguish tickle-brained malt-worm, at the (not quite so authentic) Shakespeare Insult Server