Romeo and Juliet

Word play

Shakespeare is thought to have invented around 2000 words and many phrases during his lifetime. While some of these words may have already been in use during his time, his plays are the first recorded records of them.

Many of these words and phrases first appeared in Romeo and Juliet, and in this play, Shakespeare's ability to play with language is certainly on display.

  • Research and create a list of words and phrases that Shakespeare invented that first appeared in this play. You may like to take a look at Shakespeare's words and inventions for inspiration.
  • Select one scene from the play, read it, then make a list of some of the words Shakespeare used in the scene that you have not heard of before, or are uncommon in the way we speak today.
  • What language techniques can you find in the scene? List the techniques using a quote as evidence. You might like to take a look at Language techniques in Shakespeare's plays to help you.
  • Take your list of Shakespeare’s invented phrases from Romeo and Juliet, and use them to write an entirely new scene. It might be an imagined scene from Romeo and Juliet, or one of your own invention.

Extension task – Play Shakespeare and create five words of your own, along with a definition for each. Write them into your new scene. Share them with your classmates, and discuss how you might use them in regular conversation.

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