[ bahr-dol-uh-tree ]
/ bɑrˈdɒl ə tri /
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great or excessive adoration of or reverence for William Shakespeare: I crossed the line into bardolatry halfway through my thesis on the psyche of Lady Macbeth.


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Origin of bardolatry

Coined by George Bernard Shaw in 1901; bard1 + -o- + -latry


bar·dol·a·ter, bar·dol·a·tor, nounbar·dol·a·trous, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does bardolatry mean?

Bardolatry is the extreme idolization of William Shakespeare, whose nickname is “the Bard of Avon” or simply “the Bard.”

A bard is a poet. Shakespeare (1564–1616) was an English poet and playwright who wrote some of the most famous works of all time, such as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth. He is probably the most studied writer in history, and many people consider him the greatest. Bardolatry is used negatively to criticize what is seen as an over-emphasis on Shakespeare.

Bardolatry was the Dictionary.com Word of the Day on April 23, 2019!

Example: You can blame bardolatry for the way a lot of English departments ignore other writers and instead focus massive amounts of attention on Shakespeare.

Where does bardolatry come from?

Bardolatry was coined by Irish novelist and critic George Bernard Shaw in 1901. It is a blend of bard and the suffix -latry, meaning “worship.” In this way, bardolatry is worship, or idolatry, of Shakespeare.

Shakespeare was popular during his time, but he wasn’t thought of as the all-time genius that he is seen as today. But over the years, the cult of Shakespeare grew, and Shaw coined the term bardolatry to criticize what he saw as an excess praise of Shakespeare and his works. Shaw acknowledged Shakespeare as a great writer, but he thought he had become overrated. This is typically how the term bardolatry is used—not necessarily to criticize Shakespeare, but to criticize the unquestioning worship of him, especially when it prevents other writers from being studied.

Shaw really tried to make bardolatry happen—he went on to use bardolaters in 1903 and bardolatrous in 1905. (Perhaps he doth protest too much.)

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of bardolatry?

  • bardolater (noun)
  • bardolatrous (adjective)

What are some words that share a root or word element with bardolatry

What are some words that often get used in discussing bardolatry?

How is bardolatry used in real life?

Bardolatry is often used in the contexts of academia and literary criticism, especially when criticizing an overabundance of love and reverence for Shakespeare.



Try using bardolatry!

Is bardolatry used correctly in the following sentence?

It’s hard to argue that bardolatry isn’t real when the college bookstore has 12 books on Shakespeare but not one on Christopher Marlowe.

British Dictionary definitions for bardolatry

/ (bɑːˈdɒlətrɪ) /

facetious idolatry or excessive admiration of William Shakespeare
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012