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 differently 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.

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