Tag Archives: neologisms

Neologisms in Troilus and Cressida

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Neologisms starting from act III onwards.

Starting off with “pander” from 3.2.206, except this word wasn’t coined by Shakespeare. The word originated from the character Pandarus; its meaning derived from the character’s role as a go-between in the various adaptations of the love story of Troilus and Cressida (or Criseyde). Shakespeare simply reinforced its meaning with its use in Troilus and Cressida, as explained by the Oxford English Dictionary:

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Next is “unplausive”, seen in 3.3.43. My little annotation on the first picture above shows the word means “disapproving”, as taken from OED as well:

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“Unplausive” is a word we don’t use as much in modern language (its last cited use was in the 30’s). Even its opposite, “plausive”, is considered rare.

Another word that Shakespeare coined, and is now obsolete, is “rejoindure” (4.4.35). According to OED, the word seemed to be only useful in early 17th century up to mid 18th century.

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Not all words or new meanings Shakespeare invents dies during his time. “Appalled” (4.5.4), in which Shakespeare coined a new meaning for, is still used today (its first two meanings of being “made pale” or being “flat or stale” are now obsolete). That is, we use it more in the context of simply being  “dismayed”, and not exactly as “bereft of courage…at the sudden recognition of something dreadful”.

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Another is “multipotent” (4.5.130), its usage did not die in the Elizabethan era. Though this isn’t exactly used in our daily casual conversations, but nevertheless it’s not considered obsolete.

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“Consigned” (4.4.44), too, is a word still used today, especially in business transactions. Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 12.38.32 PM

Then we have “untraded” (4.5.179), in which Shakespeare made up a new meaning for, and seemed to have been only used once in Troilus and Cressida. Even in its other contexts, this word is also obsolete.Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 12.43.59 PM

“Expectance” (4.5.157) is still around today, but is no longer used exactly in the context that Shakespeare invented. It is more commonly used as “anticipation”, and this newer meaning is derived from its older meanings.

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Lastly, we have “bragless” (5.10.5), which isn’t considered obsolete yet, but something we don’t use in modern language. Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 12.55.51 PM

Through these neologisms in Troilus and Cressida, we see how influential William Shakespeare has been in the English language. Though not all of the words he makes up last, some are still used today, or used at some point in time, or became the basis for the evolution of other meanings.