Shakespeare wrote during one of the largest vocabulary growth periods in the history of English. How many words did Shakespeare add to the English language? Guesses have ranged from just a few hundred words to more than 5,000. English is a language that’s always evolving. Just since the start of 2017, the Oxford English Dictionary has added 500 new words and phrases. And just so you know, the word of the year for 2016 was “post-truth” The world of show business has a language all of its own. Like Shakespeare, who shaped and shifted language to suit his needs, so did the world of show business. Performers from various countries and backgrounds (especially Yiddish) added their contributions to describe aspects of their acts. It was during vaudeville’s heyday that much of show business lingo got established. Some words are coded so that those not in the know wouldn’t be any wiser. Many phrases reflect the transient nature of traveling from city to city (and may actually be how it the terms spread across the country). Wayne Keyser’s website about vaudeville and burlesque is a great source for the vocabulary of show business. Variety, the publication of record for the entertainment industry since 1905, also has a wonderful compilation of what they call “slanguage” about the world of show business. As Seattle Shakespeare Company is about to launch an homage to the world of theatre and movie musicals (which were often about the theatre) with our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, we’ve edited and compiled a list of words and phrases (from the sources listed above) from the world of theatre and show business for your enjoyment.