Literary Smackdown: Chaucer vs. Shakespeare

“Literary Smackdown: Chaucer vs. Shakespeare” by Caroline Stanely.

This will come in handy next year when I am teaching both “The Canterbury Tales” and “Macbeth” or “Hamlet.”


In his new book All in a Word, linguist Vivian Cook examines both the history and meaning of words through an assortment of games, lists, puzzles, and quotes. Of the more than 100 entries, we found ourselves geeking out the most over #53 “Chaucer’s Words” and #68 “Majestic Radiance (Shakespeare’s New Words)”. While Cook notes in both instances that the famed writers probably didn’t invent the words listed, as much as make the first recorded use of the language around them, it’s interesting to see who’s responsible for what. Click through to check out our handy chart; we’ve even bolded some of the words that we found the most entertaining.

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