If you need more information on a particular word or the context in which it is used, please see the play or sonnet in which the word appears for detailed annotations at the bottom of each page.
Also please see Shakespeare's Characters: A to Z. Here you will find a comprehensive list of every Shakespearean character and the play in which he or she appears. Included is our exclusive spelled pronunciation guide, essential for actors and teachers, and an in-depth biography of many of Shakespeare's most popular and fascinating creations.
WAFT: to wave, beckon; to turn away.
WAFTAGE: passage by water.
WAGE: to renumerate; to lay as a wager; to venture, hazard.
WAGGON: chariot, carriage.
WAGTAIL: an obsequious person.
WAIST: girdle; the middle of a ship.
WAIT: to be expecting something; to be in attendance.
WALK: a person's way or course; a tract of garden or park; to withdraw.
WALL-EYED: glaring, fierce-looking.
WALL-NEWT: small lizard.
WAN: to turn pale.
WANNION: with a vengeance.
WAPPENED: withered, stale.
WARD: to guard.
WARDEN: a large pear used for baking.
WARDER: staff held by one presiding over a combat.
WARM: well off, comfortable.
WARN: to summon.
WAT: a common word for a hare.
WATCH (1): clock.
WATCH (2): being constantly awake.
WATCH (3): to be or lie awake; to look out for.
WATER: consumable liquid; tears; the lustre of a diamond.
WATER-FLY: fly that hovers over water; idle person.
WATER-GALL: a secondary rainbow.
WATER-RUG: a kind of dog.
WATER-WORK: painting in distemper.
WAX: to grow.
WAXEN: perhaps, to hiccough.
WEALTH: weal, advantage.
WEATHER-FEND: to defend from the weather.
WEB AND PIN: the cataract in the eye.
WEE: small, tiny.
WEE: to think.
WEET: to wit, know.
WEIGH OUT: to outweigh.
WELKIN: the sky.
WELL-LIKING: in good condition.
WELL SAID: int. well done! .
WEND: to go.
WESAND: the wind-pipe.
WHELK: a weal.
WHELKED: marked with whelks or protuberances.
WHEN: an exclamation of impatience.
WHEN AS: when.
WHERE: a place.
WHIFFLER: an officer who clears the way in processions.
WHILE-ERE: a little while ago.
WHIP-STOCK: handle of a whip.
WHIST: hushed, silent.
WHITE: the centre of an archery butt.
WHITELY: pale-faced. A doubtful word.
WHITING-TIME: bleaching time.
WHITTLE: a clasp knife.
WHOOP: to cry out with astonishment.
WICKED: noisome, baneful.
WIDOW: to settle a jointure upon; to become a widow.
WIDOWHOOD: the estate belonging to a widow.
WIGHT: man, person.
WIMPLED: veiled, blindfolded.
WINDOW-BARS: lattice-work across a woman's bodice.
WINTER-GROUND: to protect (a plant) from frost.
WISH: to commend.
WIT: knowledge, wisdom; sound judgement.
WITS: five, the five senses.
WITTOL: a contented cuckold.
WONDERED: marvellously gifted.
WOODCOCK: a simpleton, fool.
WOODMAN: a hunter.
WORD: to flatter or put off with words.
WORLD: life, condition of existence; 'to go to the world' is to get married.
WORM: a serpent.
WORSHIP: to honour.
WORTH: wealth, fortune.
WOT: to know.
WREAK: to avenge.
WREAKFUL: revengeful, avenging.
WREST: an instrument used for tuning a harp.
WRIT: gospel, truth.
WROTH: calamity, misfortune.
WRUNG: twisted, strained.
WRY: to swerve.
WRY-NECK'D: head awkwardly turned sideways.
Notes on Shakespeare
Ale (beer made with a top fermenting yeast) was the drink of choice in Shakespeare's day. Everyone from the poorest farmer to the Queen herself drank the brew made from malt, and a mini brewery was an essential part of every household. Shakespeare's own father was an official ale taster in Stratford – an important and respected job which involved monitoring the ingredients used by professional brewers and ensuring they sold their ale at Crown regulated prices. Beer, however, eventually became more popular than ale. Read on...
Henry Bolingbroke, the eldest son of John of Gaunt and the grandson of King Edward III, was born on April 3, 1367. Henry usurped the throne from the ineffectual King Richard II in 1399, and thus became King Henry IV, the first of the three kings of the House of Lancaster. Read on...
An atomy is the smallest particle of matter (an atom). The most famous use of the word atomy in the plays is found in Mercutio's Queen Mab speech in Romeo and Juliet (1.4)
Shakespeare acquired substantial wealth thanks to his acting and writing abilities, and his shares in London theatres. The going rate was £10 per play at the turn of the sixteenth century. So how much money did Shakespeare make? Read on...
Twenty-four of Shakespeare's sonnets are addressed to a woman. We have little information about this woman, except for a description the poet gives of her over the course of the poems. Shakespeare describes her as 'a woman color'd ill', with black eyes and coarse black hair. Thus, she has come to be known as the "dark lady." Find out...
Known to the Elizabethans as ague, Malaria was a common malady spread by the mosquitoes in the marshy Thames. The swampy theatre district of Southwark was always at risk. King James I had it; so too did Shakespeare’s friend, Michael Drayton. Read on...