‘Am I so round with you as you with me, That like a football you do spurn me thus?’ The line comes from Shakespeare’s play Comedy of Errors, Act 1, Scene 2. And again in King Lear, act 1, scene 4, this insult ‘Nor tripped neither, you base football player.’
The above lines came from my Kindle edition of the complete works of Shakespeare that cost 99 cents. Shakespeare did not of course invent football, as it existed in his time, not the soccer 21st century fans are enamored with though. This ‘football’ according to this website killed more people than swordfights. It was ‘mob’ football and I am assuming played without referees and had no concussion protocol.
But that is beside the point. According to a children’s book “William Shakespeare & the Globe”, written and illustrated by Aliki , Shakespeare invented the word ‘football’ though I am sure NFL fans believe it was Roger Goodell. It is also claimed in this wonderful book that old Will invented about or around 2,000 words such as bandit, employer, schoolboy, moonbeam, alligator!!!, luggage, eyeball, birth-place, gloomy, blushing, puppy-dog, shudder, fairy land and phrases like ‘every inch a king’, ‘pomp and circumstance’, wild-goose chase’, ‘for goodness sakes’, ‘sweets to the sweet’, and with due respect to Charles, ‘what the dickens’. Also puke, hush, and tut, tut.
I have no intention of researching all the above words and phrases, nor the others listed in the book. I will take Aliki and Scholastic at their word (pun not intended-well maybe), but it does bring up an interesting question. If Will did invent those words, and the audience in the Globe heard those words for the first time, how did they know what they meant. I can see a member of the audience saying in response to alligator ‘what was that he said’ to his companion, much like when I watch a British TV show and they use a word I am unfamiliar with, which is frequent.
I don’t really know if Will invented words or was the first to write them down on parchment and use them in public at the Globe, but language evolves like a Darwinian paradigm. There are words and phrases popular in their day that are gone, never used in centuries. I mentioned some of them in a post I previously wrote.
And we can invent phrases as well. In regards to words and evolving language how about ‘Alas poor Webster, I knew him well Roget.’ Okay, I am no Shakespeare and you are thinking that my phrase has ‘no rhyme nor reason,’ another Will invention and you are wishing me ‘good riddance,’ yes that phrase too, so I bid adieu.
“Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines.’ Hamlet, act 3, scene 2. lief means willingly, readily. Who says lief anymore?