The Words episode of Radiolab (iTunes link) features an interesting segment on how Shakespeare behaved like a language chemist, combining words like elements. The relevant story starts at 22:00 in of the episode.

According to James Shapiro, a Shakespeare scholar at Columbia, the un- prefix is something Shakespeare created (at least he was the first to use it in print or on stage). That means he invented the words unaware, uncomfortable, undress, uneducated, unwillingness, unsolicited, and unreal. Also, words like madcap and eyeball. That’s right, the word eyeball didn’t actually exist until Shakespeare came up with it.

Plenty of Shakespeare phrases have stuck with us too. Some examples mentioned by Shapiro:

Truth will out.
What’s done is done.
Dead as a doornail.
Every dog will have its day.
Fool’s paradise.
The game is afoot.
It’s Greek to me.
Kill with kindness.
Love is blind.
All’s well that end’s well.

See more of Shakespeare’s coinages (via EL). It’s neat to think about one person sitting down and actually creating so many of these words and phrases which now seem ubiquitous.