Words that Shakespeare Coined

Did you know that gloom was originally a verb? Yeah, neither did I. 😉 It’s apparently a Scottish word that originally meant “to look sullen or displeased,” dating from the 14th century. Well, in the late 1500s, Shakespeare got ahold of it; around this same time it also began to be used as a noun for “a sullen look,” and Shakespeare then added that -y to the end and created the adjective. He used it twice, first in Henry VI, Part 1 (“…but darkness and the gloomy shade of death environ you”) and then in Titus Andronicus (“the ruthless, vast, and gloomy woods”).

It’s interesting to note that the original meanings of both the noun and the verb gloom applied directly to people and their attitudes, but Shakespeare used his adjective metaphorically, to describe a forest and death. This is perhaps what led the way for gloomy and gloom to mean “dark/ness” rather than just “sullen.”

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