A-Z of Shakespeare – A


Throughout April we will be bringing you an A-Z of Shakespearean words, taken from the brilliant Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary. Every day we will be guiding you through some of the most interesting words and definitions from the dictionary, one letter at a time!

Today’s Shakespearean word of the day is….artificial

A- Artificial

Warning! Don’t read in the modern meaning of ‘not genuine.’

Artificial has two meanings in Shakespeare’s plays:

  • produced by the black arts, like ‘artificial sprites’ raised by Hecate’s magic in Macbeth
  • artistically skilful, like the ‘artificial gods’ of Helena and Hermia’s childhood needlework in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Listen to the pronunciation of artificial here


Shakespeare Dictionary _130This definition is taken from the Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary, a unique dictionary compiled by renowned English language expert David Crystal and Shakespearean actor and producer Ben Crystal to unlock the mysteries of Shakespeare’s world, words and language.