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This article was originally published in The Shakespeare Key. Charles and Mary Cowden Clarke. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1879. pp. 54-64.

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That I some lady trifles have reserv'd,
Immoment toys, things of such dignity
As we greet modern friends withal. -- Antony and Cleopatra, v. 2.

Shakespeare coined the word "immoment" to express 'unmomentous,' 'of no moment or importance.' Both of the above-cited words Dr. Johnson denounces; calling "immediacy" a harsh word, and "immoment" a barbarous word: but we very emphatically disagree with the lexicographer's opinion, and venture to think them admirably condensed and significant words, which it would be well to adopt and retain in our language. It appears to us that instead of abjuring felicitously framed expressions because they are unprecedented, we ought, on the contrary, to receive with gratitude the philological inventions of such masters in highest poesy and clearest sense as William Shakespeare, when they frame new and good terms for their own purposes, which will admirably serve ours.

Yet gives he not till judgment guide his bounty,
Nor dignifies an impair thought with breath. -- Troilus and Cressida, iv. 5.

From the Latin impar, signifying 'unequal,' 'unsuitable,' 'unbefitting,' 'unworthy;' from the Latin imparatus, signifying 'unprepared,' 'unready,' 'perplexed,' 'entangled,' and from the English 'impairing,' as signifying 'injurious,' 'detracting,' Shakespeare has framed the adjective "impair," to express a compound meaning, including the various significations of these derivatives; but Shakespeare made it do duty as an expressive adjective.

Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No; this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnardine,
Making the green -- one red. -- Macbeth, ii. 2.

Shakespeare devised the magnificently poetic verb "incarnardine" from the Italian word incarnardino, 'carnation or flesh colour,' to express 'stain carnation-red colour.'

He grew into his seat;
And to such wondrous doing brought his horse,
As he had been incorps'd and demi-nature'd
With the brave beast. -- Hamlet, iv. 7.

The word "incorps'd" more compactly expresses 'incorporated,' while "demi-nature'd" poetically suggests the dual formation of the centaur -- half-man, half-horse.

You are born
To set a form upon that indigest,
Which he hath left so shapeless and so rude. -- King John, v. 7.
And that your love taught it this alchemy,
To make of monsters and things indigest
Such cherubins as your sweet self resemble. -- Sonnet 114.

From the Latin word indigestus, 'disordered,' 'confused,' Shakespeare framed the term "indigest," which he uses as a noun, in the first of the above passages, to express 'a mass of confusion or disorder,' 'a chaos or chaotic state'; and as an adjective, in the second of the above passages, to express 'unformed,' 'shapeless.'

The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre,
Observe degree, priority, and place,
Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
Office, and custom, in all line of order. -- Troilus and Cressida, i. 3.

From the Latin verb insistere, 'to stay,' 'stop,' or 'stand still,' Shakespeare framed his word "insisture," to express 'fixed position,' 'appointed situation,' 'steadfast place.'

As easy may'st thou the intrenchant air
With thy keen sword impress, as make me bleed. -- Macbeth, v. 7.

From the word "trenchant," 'cutting,' Shakespeare has formed the epithet "intrenchant," to express 'incapable of being cut.'

The diamond -- why, 'twas beautiful and hard,
Whereto his invis'd properties did tend. -- Lover's Complaint, Stanza 31.

The poet formed the word "invis'd" to express 'unseen,' 'invisible.'

Conspir'd with that irregulous devil, Cloten. -- Cymbeline, iv. 2.

Shakespeare invented the epithet "irregulous" to espress something much more strong than 'irregular'; something that combines the sense of 'disorderly,' 'lawless,' 'licentious,' as well as 'anomalous,' 'mongrel,' 'monstrous' -- out of ordinary rule and order in every way.

But soon that war had end, and the time's state
Made friends of them, jointing their force against Caesar. -- Antony and Cleopatra, i. 2.

Here "jointing" is framed to express 'combining conjointly,' 'joining confederately.'

At such a point,
When half to half the world oppos'd, he being
The mered question. -- Antony and Cleopatra, iii. 2.

Inasmuch as Shakespere uses the word "mere" sometimes in the sense of 'absolute,' 'entire,' 'sole,' and sometimes in the sense of 'boundary' or 'limit,' he forms the word "mered" to express 'limited entirely,' 'confined absolutely.'

Not Neoptolemus so mirable
(On whose bright crest Fame with her loud'st O-yes
Cries, "This is he!") could promise to himself
A thought of added honour torn from Hector. -- Troilus and Cressida, iv. 5.

From the Latin mirabilis, 'wonderful,' 'that which is to be admired at,' or 'marvelled at,' Shakespeare coined for himself the epithet 'mirable.'

Our discontented counties do revolt;
Our people quarrel with obedience;
Swearing allegiance and the love of soul
To stranger blood, to foreign royalty.
This inundation of mistemper'd humour
Rests by you only to be qualified. -- King John, v. 1.
Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
Profaners of this neighbor-stained steel--
Will they not hear? What, ho! you men, you beasts,
That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
With purple fountains issuing from your veins,
On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
Throw your mistemper'd weapons to the ground. -- Romeo and Juliet, i. 1.

In this excellently formed word "mistemper'd," the poet not only gives the effect of 'ill-temper'd,' 'wrathful'; he also gives the effect of 'misguidedly and misdirectedly wrathful'; and he moreover includes, in the first passage, the additional sense of 'ill-compounded,' and, in the second passage, the additional sense of 'steel-tempered, but to be used in a bad cause.'

Or -- if sour woe delighs in fellowship,
And needly will be rank'd with other griefs. -- Romeo and Juliet, iii. 2.

Shakespeare has coined the word "needly" to express 'needfully,' 'necessarily;' and has used it here in combination with "will be" as a form of our modern idiom 'needs must be.'

Earth, yield me roots!
Who seeks for better of thee, sauce his palate
With thy most operant poison! -- Timon of Athens, iv. 3.
My operant powers their functions leave to do. -- Hamlet, iii. 2.

Shakespeare constructed the word "operant" as an elegant and concise form of 'operative,' to express 'actively efficacious.'

Take but degree away, untune that string,
And, hark, what discord follows! each thing meets
In mere oppugnancy. -- Troilus and Cressida, i. 3.

From the Latin word oppugnans, 'resisting,' 'assaulting,' or 'fighting against,' our poet framed the expressive term "oppugnancy," to express 'warring opposition.'

In the most high and palmy state of Rome. -- Hamlet, i. 1.

The palm being the emblem of victory, and the palm being often mentioned as typical of flourishing (Shakespeare himself, in this very play, act v., sc. 2, and in "Timon," act v., sc. 1., having passages which make this allusion), our author here forms the poetical epithet "palmy" to combinedly express 'victorious and flourishing.'

As true as steel, as plantage to the moon. -- Troilus and Cressida, iii. 2.

Here the word "plantage" is invented to express plants generally or collectively, all that is planted, vegetation.

The primogenitive and due of birth. -- Troilus and Cressida, i. 3.

From the two Latin words primo, 'first,' and genitivus, 'that which is born with us,' Shakespeare framed the above word to express 'the claims or right of the first born.'

A violet in the youth of primy nature. -- Hamlet, i. 3.

As Shakespeare uses the word "prime" in the sense of 'spring,' 'early bloom,' so here he frames the epithet "primy" to express 'spring-timed,' 'early-blooming.'


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