In studying the works of John Milton in The Riverside Milton, I've noticed that the footnotes repeatedly point to the OED, which cites Milton as having coined a seemingly endless number of words and phrases that are still in use today. Knowing that he was fluent in Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Italian, I've become extremely curious: Does anyone have a clue as to how many words/phrases Milton contributed to the English language?

1 Answer 1


This source claims Milton coined 630 words (to Shakespeare's 229):

According to Gavin Alexander, lecturer in English at Cambridge university and fellow of Milton's alma mater, Christ's College, who has trawled the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for evidence, Milton is responsible for introducing some 630 words to the English language, making him the country's greatest neologist, ahead of Ben Jonson with 558, John Donne with 342 and Shakespeare with 229.

  • @Erik: If that helps you, consider accepting the answer by clicking the checkmark (or upvoting it). It will mark you as a good citizen on this board and people will be more likely to answer your questions in the future.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 5:23
  • I'm new here, so I checkmarked it (can't upvote anything yet).
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  • I wonder how many words Snoop Dizzle coined...
    – oosterwal
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 14:19
  • 1
    @oosterwal: Let's wait 400 years before we count those. See how many last that long.
    – Robusto
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 14:28

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