Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

High-level, impressive vocabulary can be learned from a multitude of sources.

In today’s episode, you’ll get three high-level English words that Shakespeare invented.

These can be used in a corporate setting to keep your business English from becoming lackluster.

Tune in and add this vocabulary to your vernacular.

How many words did William Shakespeare invent?

Believe it or not, William Shakespeare invented over 1,700 words!

This is fascinating trivia you can use to stump your friends.

Like many college students, Aubrey and Lindsay read a lot of Shakespeare in school.

In today’s episode, we answer a listener question related to William Shakespeare.

“Hi Lindsay! This is Amir, writing from the UAE. I’m one of your fans who listen to your podcasts every day when I commute between my home to my office. I remember several years ago, I read a novel by Shakespeare. Regretfully, I can’t remember its name and I encountered the word ‘bastinado.’ I think it’s an old-fashioned word and nowadays it can not be used in talking or writing. However, I’m so curious to know that it must be used as a form of a noun or a verb. Take care!”


Evolving English

Lindsay and Aubrey haven’t heard the word ‘bastinado’ before.

Many words fall out of use as language evolves.

Aubrey researched it and ‘bastinado’ means to cane or beat the soles of someone’s feet.

It is a form of punishment or torture done centuries ago.

‘Bastinado’ is a word that is no longer used nowadays.

Shakespeare for Business English

There are many words created by Shakespeare that we use in business English.

Lindsey and Aubrey share three of the most common in today’s episode.

You can use these words in business English.

Your colleagues will find it impressive!

You will sound articulate and well-read.

Shakespeare created new words by changing nouns into verbs and verbs into adjectives.

He would also add prefixes and suffixes to words or combine two different words to make a new word.

#1: Lackluster

He used this word in the play ‘As You Like It.’

He used it to mean dull or without brilliance.

Shakespeare didn’t use the word ‘lackluster’ the same way we use it today.

For example, he described a person’s eyes as lackluster.

The meaning of this has evolved throughout the years.

  • lackluster: unimpressive

In business English today, use it to mean unimpressive.

His performance in the job interview was lackluster.
She has a lackluster attitude.

#2: Baseless

Shakespeare used this in his play entitled ‘The Tempest.’

He described a sheer fabric as baseless.

Similar to ‘lackluster’, the current meaning is different from the way he used it in his play.

  • baseless: without foundation in fact.

Those are baseless allegations.
My ideas are not baseless. Here are the statistics to prove this.

#3: Impartial

This was used in the play ‘King Henry IV Part 2.’

This is used the same as it has been used by Shakespeare.

  • impartial: without a preference for either choice

There wasn’t a word that mean the opposite of impartial at that time.

Her boss was impartial to her when they first met but now she has great respect for her.
Try to stay impartial when you try both products.


The following roleplay will show you how to use these words in daily conversation in the business world.

In this scenario, Lindsay and Aubrey are co-workers.

They are debriefing after interviewing a candidate for the position they are trying to fill.

Aubrey: That was a bit of a lackluster performance. Don’t you think?
Lindsay: Honestly, it’s very difficult for me to be impartial because, to be honest, he’s my brother-in-law.
Aubrey: Oh really? I didn’t know that.
Lindsay: I think you should just decide since you can be impartial.
Aubrey: I wasn’t impressed but to tell you the truth, I couldn’t put my finger on why. So maybe my opinion is baseless.

Bonus idiom

The idiom “I can’t put my finger on…” means you aren’t exactly sure why something is the way it is.

For example, in Aubrey’s conversation with Lindsay, she wasn’t sure why she found the performance to be lackluster.

This idiom is used often in business English.

Use it when you have an opinion or gut instinct that you don’t have evidence for.

I think we should go with the first option, though I can’t put my finger on why.


Reading classical English literature can be challenging, but it will definitely improve your vocabulary.

You may have encountered the works of Shakespeare when you were in school.

Now is a good time to revisit his plays and novels since there are many open-source libraries online.

You can easily access classic English literature anywhere.

Use these 3 words from Shakespeare to sound impressive at work!

What other words from Shakespeare do you use at work?

Share them in the comments below.

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