**A writing competition for children as part of Shakespeare in Sutton – FOLIO’s fun festival for all**

Be a Word Wizard like Will!

Use your magic to create your new word, or coinage (a special word meaning “the invention of a new word”), tell us what it means and what inspired it, write a sentence with it and then send it to FOLIO by March 27 to be in with a chance of winning a sack full of ‘gold’ coins for yourself (actually £25’s worth of pound coins) and £125 worth of books for your school.

William Shakespeare wrote poems and plays over 400 years ago but even today, in the 21st century, they are still much loved because he was so creative with his language, and because he told such great stories packed with brilliant characters.

William Shakespeare introduced about 1,700 new words into English and we want you to be a Word Wizard like Will: Can you create your own new word for us to use during our Shakespeare Festival which will be taking place in April 2022?

Please decorate your entries so they are eye-catching – we want people to stop and read your word, be amazed by it and hopefully start using it!

Example entry

All shortlisted entries will be digitally displayed in Sutton Coldfield Library during our Shakespeare Festival 19-30th April. The winner will be announced on Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23.

This competition is open to all children aged 7 – 13. You can enter as many times as you like. Please take a photo of your entry and ask your parents/carers / teacher to email it to Zoe on zoe@foliosuttoncoldfield.org.uk with your name, your age and your school.

When we display your word, in the library or on FOLIO’s social media we will only use your first name and your age.


Here are some additional ideas and inspiration to get you ready to work your word wizardry!

Shakespeare introduced about 1,700 new words into the English language. These were words that had never been printed in a book before. Some of them may have been spoken before but they had not previously been used in a book.

Can you think of any words you use that maybe haven’t been written in a book yet? Thinking of words that you know that maybe your parents or grandparents don’t know or don’t use might be helpful.

Some examples of new(ish) words

  • Covid
  • selfie
  • Omicron
  • sus
  • dope

  • Shakespeare made new words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and making up completely new words. 

    Here are some of the words that Shakespeare introduced into English:

    fashionable / advertising / amazing / blanket / bump / bedroom / gossip / puking / amazement / excellent /
    critic / fairyland / frugal / generous / gloomy / gnarled / hurry / laughable / lonely / leapfrog / majestic /
    road / suspicious / lower / lonely / moonbeam / mountaineer / noiseless / cold-blooded / bloodstained
    unreal / hobnob / bet / birthplace / hint / eyeball / worthless / zany

    Here are seven sensational ways to make new words:

    (1) Shakespeare often made new words by taking existing word and adding a prefix (before the word), such as un- as in unkind or a suffix (after the word), such as -less, as in worthless. Your new word could use a prefix, a suffix, or maybe even both!

    Here are some prefixes and suffixes you might know which you could use:

    Un- as in unhappy, undo, unload, unfair, unlock
    Dis- as in disagree, disobey
    Mis- as in misbehave, misunderstand
    In- as in inactive, incorrect
    Inter- as in international, intercity
    Super- as in superman, superstar

    –ment as in enjoyment, merriment
    –ness as in sadness, happiness
    –ful as in playful, plentiful
    –less as in hopeless, penniless
    –ly as in happily, badly
    -er as in gardener, miller, reader
    -ation as in information, admiration
    -able as in adorable, noticeable

    (2) Another way to make new words is by abbreviating them, or shortening them.

    For example pram came from perambulator, goodbye came from God be with you, laser took the first letter from “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”, scuba did the same with Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.

    (3) You can make new words by putting two existing words together. Words like this are called compound words. Compound words are often written with a space in between them when they first start being used. Over time a hyphen might be introduced, and then, eventually, they are often written as a single unit.

    Compound words include daydream, awe-inspiring, and environmentally friendly

    (4) Take the name of a person or a place to make your new word. Words like this are called eponyms, and you’ll know lots of them without even realising it:

    The word America is named after Italian Map maker, Amerigo Vespucci.

    Diesel (the fuel some vehicles use)
    Named after Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913), a French-born German engineer, who invented the diesel engine

    This word comes from General Ambrose Burnside (1824–81), an American soldier and politician whose beard was just on the sides of his face. 

    wellingtons (as in welly boots)
    Originally Wellingtons were a type of boot made popular by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.

    See for more ideas https://www.bbc.co.uk/ideas/playlists/eponyms-explored

    (5) You can give an old word a new meaning by taking a word used in one context and using it in a different context, but one that has some similarities. For example the word crane, meaning lifting machine, came from the long-necked bird, and the computer mouse was named after the long-tailed animal.

    (6) Do you speak a language other than English? How about introducing a word found in your other language(s) to English? Words like this are called loan words.

    science – this word comes from old French
    cockroach – this word comes from Spanish
    lemon – this word comes from Arabic
    history – this word comes from Green
    coffee – this work comes from Turkish

    Maybe there is a word in one the languages you speak at home that doesn’t have a good English equivalent? Why not introduce it to English and see if it catches on?

    (7) Create a new word by initiating the sound an action makes. This is called onomatopoeia. Some examples include

    Machine noises — honk, beep, vroom, clang, zap, boing
    Animal names — cuckoo, whip-poor-will, whooping crane, chickadee
    Impact sounds — boom, crash, whack, thump, bang
    Sounds of the voice —s hush, giggle, growl, whine, murmur, blurt, whisper, hiss
    Nature sounds — splash, drip, spray, whoosh, buzz, rustle

    There are other ways you can make new words too. You don’t have to use the ways we’ve described above – you could just come up with something completely new! We can’t wait to see read and say you come up with!

    If you’d like to find out more about Shakespeare, his life, his stories and his words here are some great books you can read and links you can explore:

    Stories from Shakespeare by Geraldine McCaughrean

    Mr William Shakespeare’s Plays by Marcia Williams

    What’s So Special About Shakespeare? by Michael Rosen

    Best loved plays of Shakespeare by Jennifer Mulherin

    Top ten Shakespeare stories by Terry Deary

    All these books and many more are available to borrow from Birmingham Libraries. If you want some advice or help finding great books, do ask your local librarian!

    Shakespeare’s forgotten words with Michael Rosen

    Shakespeare’s creative use of language

    Horrible Histories – Sensational Shakespeare

    CBeebies: Who is William Shakespeare?

    Playground from Shakespeare’s Globe

    Mrs History’s Everything to Everybody resources (you’ll need to scroll to the bottom of the page)

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