Word families

Shakespeare often refers to the heart. But he also uses this word to help create other words, such as unheart, heart-sore, and heartless. How many such derived words are there, and how are they used? Type HEART into the search-box and you will see.

We use the term word-family to identify the set of words that contain the same basic element. They will be part of a compound word (as in heart-sore), accompanied by a prefix (as in unheart) or a suffix (as in heartless), or used in different ways (e.g. as a noun and a verb). In this section we list all the words in the canon (in the modern English version) that have family resemblances so you can see which words Shakespeare exploited in this way, and which he did not. Words that are not included (such as the and Horatio) are described on the further information page here.

When there are several family members, we group them into themes, showing the directions in which Shakespeare used a word. Where these occur, they are listed under the main heading. The names of the themes, taken along with their family members, we hope are self-explanatory, but more illustration can be found on the further information page here.

List of Word Families by size

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