Theme: Words coined after Shakespearean characters
1. Dogberry (DOG-ber-ee, -buh-ree)
noun: A pompous, incompetent, self-important official.
After Dogberry, a constable in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, in which he goes about his blundering ways while mouthing malapropisms. Earliest documented use: 1801.
“Why doesn’t he do something, then? Ignorant Dogberry! Useless bumpkin! Calls himself a copper and doesn’t even know where to start!”
Edmund Crispin; The Glimpses of the Moon; Gollancz; 1977.
“The mayor of Bangor, Maine, vetoed a time-altering resolution passed by its city council … for which Railway Age lampooned him in an editorial that began ‘A Dogberry who holds the office of mayor.'”
Jack Beatty; Age of Betrayal; Knopf; 2007.
2. Portia (POR-shuh, -shee-uh)
noun: A female lawyer.
“‘Listen sister…law isn’t the only subject I’ve mastered!’ snaps Betty, … ‘I may be a Portia, but my middle name’s Dempsey!'”
3. Timon (TY-muhn)
noun: One who hates or distrusts humankind.
“My soul was swallowed up in bitterness and hate … I saw nothing to do but live apart like a Timon.”
noun: A man who is a passionate lover or seducer.
“The square’s scribes were once famous as stand-in Romeos, writing love letters. Sometimes, the same scribe would find himself handling both sides of the correspondence for a courting pair.”
noun: Someone who is capable of influencing others’ behavior or perceptions without their being aware of it.
After Prospero, the deposed Duke of Milan and a magician, in Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Earliest documented use: 1785.
“Melliora is the Prospero who engineers a return to social order entirely in accord with her desires.”