Assassination and Bump

You probably see it quoted all the time: “Shakespeare invented the words assassination and bump!”

It is…inaccurate.  What does it mean to invent a word?  Can history ever really trace the first person to string together a series of letters in a way that no one else ever did?

It is more correct to say that Shakespeare represents the first recorded use of the word.  In that case, the statement is true: assassination appears in Macbeth, and bump (as a noun, not like to bump into somebody) appears in Romeo and Juliet.

For the curious, here’s one of many lists of words that Shakespeare is first credited with using. I choose this list because it attempts to clarify how Shakespeare used each word when he used it in a way different than we do now.  “Import”, for example, was just a different way for him to say “importance,” and that is not how we use it today.

3 thoughts on “Assassination and Bump

  1. That is actually not true, it is a common mistake, actually the word “assassination” comes from old latin… Way before Shakespeare lived.

  2. Yeah, there’s a bunch of words on the ever popular “Did you know Shakespeare invented these words?” lists that more research and documentation have shown simply aren’t true. This post is from 10 years ago and if I went back and updated every mistake I made I’d be here all day 🙂

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