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Introduction

The Database of Latin Dictionaries (DLD) is an unparalleled resource for research on the Latin language throughout the ages. Because of its broad spectrum of dictionaries, the DLD offers an immediate overview of Latin vocabulary that no isolated dictionary can give.

In order to cover all possible perspectives on Latin vocabulary, the DLD includes several types of dictionaries: ones that purely define and/or translate, next to thematic dictionaries and dictionaries that themselves date back to the medieval and early modern periods. As such, the DLD is a major tool both for students learning Latin and for experienced scholars of the language.

The interface provides first-time users with a simple search option, while the more experienced can explore the advanced search possibilities where all kinds of words or expressions, Latin and non-Latin, can be the object of complex queries using various criteria, singly or in combination.

Starting in 2005 with only two dictionaries, the DLD has now grown into a large collection of 23 dictionaries. Every year at least one dictionary is added and various improvements are made to the existing ones. These improvements may consist in corrections to the text of the dictionaries, expanded search possibilities, or the addition of newly published addenda. The DLD continually strives to provide its users with the best and most up-to-date information.

 

Scope and aim

The aim of the DLD is to produce for scholars and students an online database comprising a large number of different Latin dictionaries and lexica, so offering tools for:

  • understanding Latin texts of various genres, periods, countries or regions;
  • analyzing Latin vocabulary at different levels and with different focuses and purposes;
  • selecting appropriate terms to conduct studies in the Latin textual databases;
  • comparing the dictionaries with one another.

Along with the dictionaries, the DLD also offers a complete list of attested word forms and their corresponding lemmas. These lists are based on years of thorough research and text analysis done by the Centre ‘Traditio Litterarum Occidentalium’ for the Library of Latin Texts and contain nearly 500,000 words and 70,000 lemmas.

One major feature of the DLD is the links that have been built with the full-text Latin databases (Library of Latin Texts-Series A, Library of Latin Texts-Series B, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica, the Archive of Celtic-Latin Literature and the Aristoteles Latinus Database). These links enable the user who has conducted a search on a word in a dictionary within the DLD to export this word automatically to its sister-database and thereby identify actual occurrences of the particular word in Latin Literature.

Languages

While being in essence a database of Latin dictionaries, the DLD is also multilingual in that it contains translations, explanations and examples in various languages, which evidently add to its richness.

Up until now, the database comprises, as the main modern languages used in translation/explanation, English, French, German, Hungarian, Czech, and Spanish, and to a lesser extent also  Italian, ancient Greek, Hebrew, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, Old English, Middle French, and others.

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Defining and translating dictionaries

‘Defining’ dictionaries are those providing semantic and in some cases etymological explanations of Latin words, in Latin; cases in point are Forcellini’s Lexicon and Onomasticon and the Glossarium of Du Cange. ‘Translating’ dictionaries, on the other hand, are those providing translations and explanations of Latin words in modern languages, notably the Latin Dictionary of Lewis & Short, Souter’s Glossary of Later Latin, the two dictionaries by A. Blaise, and M. Pérez’ Lexicon on Medieval Latin from the Kingdom of León.

General dictionaries covering Antiquity

In the conception of the DLD, Antiquity (i.e. Classical Antiquity) is considered as the period from the beginning of Latin literature (third century BC) until, roughly, the second century AD. So the dictionaries at hand are the ones pertaining to so-called ‘Classical’ texts and to inscriptions dating from this time, that is to say: Forcellini’s Lexicon and Onomasticon, and the dictionary of Lewis & Short. One should note, however, that these three dictionaries also take into account certain authors from the Patristic period, for example Augustine and Isidore of Seville.

Forcellini, E., Furlanetto, G., Corradini, Fr., & Perin, J. (1940).
Lexicon Totius Latinitatis.
Patavii: Typis seminarii.

The DLD presents a fully-searchable version  of Forcellini’s Lexicon in its entirety. The edition used is the latest, which includes the numerous addenda of Mgr. Perin, which were first published in 1940. Besides its immense historical importance, this Lexicon remains essential for everything which has not yet appeared in the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (the letters N, P, R [beginning], Q, and S to Z). The importance of Forcellini also lies in his bibliographical notes and his numerous multilingual translations (into French, German, English, Spanish and Italian).

Forcellini, E., & Perin, J. (1940).
Lexicon Totius Latinitatis. Onomasticon.
Patavii: Typis seminarii.

The integration of the Onomasticon into the DLD is of marked importance, the more so because the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae for proper names has only been published for the letters A to D and because there are currently no plans to continue the publication of the Onomasticon.

Gaffiot, F. (1934).
Dictionnaire illustré latin-français.
Paris: Hachette.

Commissioned by the publisher Hachette to create a new Latin-French dictionary, Félix Gaffiot finished this seminal work in 1934. The monumental dictionary, containing over 1,700 pages, quickly superseded Quicherat and Daveluy’s Dictionnaire latin-français, which had dominated the French-speaking world since 1844. Up to this day, Gaffiot’s opus magnum remains the standard Latin dictionary for French-language scholars and students alike.

Lewis, Ch. T., & Short, Ch. (1879).
A Latin Dictionary.
Oxford: Clarendon Press.

First published in 1879, Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short’s Latin Dictionary (often abbreviated to L&S) quickly became, and remains, one of the main reference dictionaries in English-language classical scholarship. It was derived from the 1850 English translation by Ethan Allen Andrews of the Latin-German Wörterbuch der Lateinischen Sprache by Wilhelm Freund, which was based in its turn on I. J. G. Scheller’s 1783 Latin-German dictionary.

General dictionaries covering the Patristic period

The Patristic period (i.e. Late Antiquity) runs from the second century until 735 AD (death of the Venerable Bede). The DLD here provides the two reference dictionaries: the Dictionnaire latin des auteurs chrétiens by A. Blaise (‘Patristic Blaise’), and the Glossary of Later Latin by A. Souter.

Blaise, A. (1967).
Dictionnaire latin-français des auteurs chrétiens.
Turnhout: Brepols.

This dictionary, which is the only scholarly tool dedicated to the era of the Latin Church Fathers as a whole, covers the period from the earliest Christian writings (the time of Tertullian and the Passio Perpetuae) to the dawn of the Carolingian Renaissance. It comprises classical words used by the Fathers in new senses as well as new lexical creations. The electronic version includes a harmonisation of the references to works cited, an indication of the century of composition of these works, and later corrections (addenda et delenda).

Souter, A. (1957).
A Glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D.
Oxford: Clarendon Press.

A Latin-English dictionary of late Latin, covering the period from the end of the second century to the beginning of the seventh, and originally conceived as a supplement to the Oxford Latin Dictionary, the latter not including Christian texts or going beyond the earliest centuries.

General dictionaries covering the Middle Ages and later periods

All the dictionaries belonging to this section concern Medieval Latin, but three of them, the Glossarium of Du Cange, A. Blaise’s Lexicon latinitatis medii aevi (‘Medieval Blaise’) and the Glossarium of Bartal Antal, extend their chronological limits to the Modern Period.

Blaise, A. (1975).
Lexicon latinitatis medii aevi.
Turnholti: Brepols.

Continuing his work on lexicography after completing his dictionary for the Latin of the Church Fathers, in 1975 Albert Blaise published the Lexicon latinitatis medii aeui. Intending to counter the absence of lexical tools for scholastic literature, the author included attestations from beyond the traditional upper limit of the Middle Ages and even  included some modern Latin terms, for instance those used during the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

Du Cange, Ch. et al. (1883-1887).
Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis.
Niort: L. Favre.

In 1678, Charles du Fresne, sieur du Cange, published the first edition of his Glossarium ad scriptores mediae et infimae Latinitatis. Through multiple reeditions and revisions, this glossary of medieval and late Latin writers has become and remains up to this day a staple resource for researchers of the European Middle Ages. For the DLD, the 1883-1887 edition by Léopold Favre was selected, as it also includes addenda by the Maurists, Dom Carpentier and other scholars.

Regional dictionaries covering the Middle Ages and later periods

In this section a distinction must be made between general dictionaries on the one hand, and national/regional ones on the other. ‘General’ dictionaries are those, such the Du Cange and the Medieval Blaise, that do not focus on a particular geographical area, while the term ‘national’ or ‘regional’ applies to works that doexactly this. This distinction is motivated by the fact that during the Middle Ages, Latin was differentiating more and more from one country or even region to another, due to the influence of vernacular languages and local realities. In its current state, the DLD contains dictionaries covering five countries or regions:

  • Great Britain, with the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources;
  • Hungary, with the Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis regni Hungariae by A. Bartal;
  • Italy, with the Latinitatis Italicae medii aevi Lexicon by Fr. Arnaldi (et alii);
  • Czechia, with the Latinitatis medii aevi Lexicon Bohemorum by L. Varcl (et alii);
  • the Kingdom of León, with the Lexicon Latinitatis Medii Aevi Regni Legionis of M. Pérez González.

Arnaldi, Fr. & Smiragli, P. (2001).
Latinitatis italicae medii aevi lexicon (saec. V ex.-saec. XII in.).
Firenze: SISMEL.

This lexicon is devoted to the vocabulary of Latin texts from Italy, from the end of the fifth to the beginning of the eleventh century. In a single volume, this work gathers the three tomes of the Latinatis Italicae Medii Aevi Lexicon imperfectum, issued respectively in 1939, 1951-1953, 1957-1964, as well as the twelve addenda published in the Archivum Latinitatis Medii Aevi (ALMA), from 1965 to 1997. The Lexicon is continuously developing, and therefore, since the edition of 2001, several supplements have appeared in the ALMA. Eleven of those – from 2002 to 2013 – are now available in the DLD, and the forthcoming publications will be integrated on a regular basis.

Bartal, A. (1901).
Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis regni Hungariae.
Lipsiae: Teubner.

The Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis Regni Hungariae, commissioned from Antonius Bartal in 1894 by the Hungarian Academy of Letters, was published in 1901 and contains close to 37,000 entries. It was designed as a Hungarian supplement to the Du Cange dictionary, to which it often explicitly refers, and it focuses primarily on a vocabulary of realia from a variety of domains. It systematically provides Latin definitions alongside Hungarian translations, and often gives German translations as well. Its sources are mainly historical, but also ecclesiastical, legal, administrative, and diplomatic.

Latham, E., Howlett, D. R. & Ashdowne, R. K. (1975-2013).
The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources.
London: British Academy.

The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, published by the British Academy, is the most extensive dictionary of Medieval Latin ever produced and the first to have been devoted to British medieval Latin. Covering a particularly long period, stretching from Gildas (fl. 540) to William Camden (1600), it is entirely based on original research, that is to say, on a meticulous reading of thousands of medieval Latin texts, both literary and documentary, carried out specifically for the purpose of identifying their lexical particularities, whenever possible on the basis of the best available sources, whether original manuscripts or modern critical editions. It is also based on systematic searches in electronic databases, including Brepolis’ Library of Latin Texts.

Pérez González, M., & Pérez Rodríguez, E. (2010).
Lexicon Latinitatis Medii Aevi Regni Legionis (s. VIII-1230) imperfectum.
Turnhout: Brepols.

Published in 2010, this Latin-Spanish lexicon, or more precisely Latin-Romance-Spanish lexicon, studies the vocabulary of historiographical and diplomatic texts written in the Kingdom of León – with the exception of Galicia – between the eighth century and 1230, the date of the definitive unification of the Kingdoms of León and Castile.

Varcl, L., Georges, K. E., Kamínková, E. et al. (1977-1992).
Latinitatis medii aevi Lexicon Bohemorum. A-H.
Pragae: Academia Scientiarum Bohemoslovaca.

The Latinitatis medii aevi Lexicon Bohemorum (LB) is a dictionary dedicated to Medieval Latin as it was used in the ‘Czech lands’ (Bohemia, Moravia, and Czech Silesia). Begun in 1934 under the supervision of prof. Bohumil Ryba and further developed by the Department of Medieval Lexicography at the Czech Academy of Sciences, the lexicon is based on written material dating from about 1000 AD to 1500 AD. The first fascicle appeared in 1977 and work continues up to this day. At this moment, three volumes (i.e. half the envisaged length of the dictionary) have been published: I (A-C), II (D-H), III (I-M); fascicle 24 (N) is in preparation. The DLD contains a digitized version of fascicles 1-14 (a – hytonicus).

 

Thematic dictionaries

Thematic dictionaries gather and explain the specific vocabulary of a particular domain. As such, they often have not only a lexical, but also an encyclopaedic character, going beyond providing a strict definition/translation of an isolated word to treat further developments.

Ecclesiastical Latin

For more detailed searches on ecclesiastical Latin vocabulary and about the Church and Church History in general, users can refer to the Latin-English Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin by L. F. Stelten, and especially to A. Sleumer’s Kirchenlateinisches Wörterbuch, which is still a major reference work in the field.

Sleumer, A. (2011).
Kirchenlateinisches Wörterbuch.
Hildesheim: Olms.

Published in 1926 and reprinted five times (most recently in 2011), Albert Sleumer’s Kirchenlateinisches Wörterbuch remains a key reference work in its field. A Latin-German dictionary with more than 34,000 entries, it covers an extended period, running from Late Antiquity to the beginning of the twentieth century. It is based the Vulgate, on works on liturgy (breviary, Roman missal), hagiography and canon law (such as the Codex iuris canonici of 1917), and on administrative texts.

Stelten, L. F. (1995).
Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin.
Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

The approximately 17,000 entries which make up this work are for the most part devoted to terms from the Scriptures, and from canon law, liturgy, and the texts of the Second Vatican Council. Of particular interest are the numerous expressions, formulae, titles, explanations of abbreviations, and so on, that are provided in this dictionary.

Philosophical Latin

Furthermore, users can find out about the specifics of philosophical and scientific Latin vocabulary, as well as about the state of philosophy and science in the seventeenth century, thanks to the Lexicon Philosophicum by E. Chauvin and the homonymous work by J. Micraelius. These are two of the three most important Latin philosophical dictionaries of the seventeenth century century, which can itself be described as ‘the ‘century of Latin philosophical lexicography’.

Chauvin, S. (1713).
Lexicon philosophicum.
Leovardiae: Fr. Halma.

Étienne Chauvin’s Lexicon is generally considered to be the first modern philosophical dictionary, because it is the first ‘to make a comparison between the classical philosophical vocabulary and the terminology of the ‘new’ philosophy’ (E. Canone). Like Micraelius’ work, it is also notable for the attention it pays to the sciences, above all to physics, chemistry, astronomy and anatomy.

Micraelius, J. (1662).
Lexicon Philosophicum terminorum philosophis usitatorum.
Stetini: M. Höpfner.

Johannes Micraelius’ Lexicon is among the three seminal Latin philosophical dictionaries of the seventeenth century, alongside the Lexicon Philosophicum of Étienne Chauvin (1713) and that of Rudolph Goclenius (1613). It is a ‘philosophical lexicon’ in the broad sense, for a large part devoted to the sciences, notably to natural sciences. One of the most striking features of this work is the presence, within many articles, of a whole series of sub-lemmas, and even sub-subentries, consisting of derivative words, syntagms and others, and articulated in a structured and coherent way. This makes this lexicon ‘a first-rate instrument for the study of philosophical language, as well as for the analysis of conceptual distinctions on the basis of the various meanings of terms relating to different disciplines’ (E. Canone).

Grammatical Latin

Schad, S. (2007).
A Lexicon of Latin Grammatical Terminology.
Pisa/Rome: F. Serra.

Published in 2007 as the outcome of Samantha Schad’s doctoral dissertation, this lexicon is an invaluable source for students of Latin grammatical literature. This book is the first full-fledged dictionary focusing solely on the technical language adopted by Latin grammarians. Schad based her selection of terminology on Heinrich Keil’s corpus of Latin grammarians (1822-1894), which ranges from the first to the eighth centuries AD, complemented by Karl Barwick’s edition of Charisius and Louis Holtz’s of Donatus.

Linguistic dictionaries

The DLD also contains a thematic dictionary of a different kind: L. Ramshorn’s Lateinische Synonymik, a dictionary of synonyms. This work can be considered ‘thematic’ in that each article constitutes a theme in itself, bringing up an impressive series of words or phrases close to each other in meaning.

Ramshorn, L. (1831-1833).
Lateinische Synonymik.
Nach Gardin-Dumesnil’s Synonymes latins neu bearbeitet und vermehrt
.
Leipzig: Baumgärtner.

As stated in its subtitle, the book is a reworked and considerably expanded version of Jean-Baptiste Gardin Dumesnil’s Synonymes latins (following the fourth edition of 1827). Each of the 1,366 entries in the Synonymik brings up an often impressive series of words or phrases close to each other in meaning, and thus providing an invaluable aid to any thematic research in Latin texts. The richness and value of this lexicon are all the greater because this is not a synonym dictionary stricto sensu, but also brings together terms that lie within the same semantic field without being actual synonyms, thus opening up a wider perspective.

Meyer-Lübke, W. (1935).
Romanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch.
Heidelberg: Carl Winter.

The Romanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch (REW) is an essential tool for scholars who want to discover the way in which Latin words have survived up to the present day in the Romance languages. Despite its age, the REW remains a fundamental reference work for Romance linguists, as well as for scholars of Late Antique and Medieval Latin. The electronic version is based on the third and last edition, published a year before Meyer-Lübke’s death, and includes the addenda and corrigenda which can be found in the appendix.

Medieval and early modern dictionaries

The dictionaries in this section were written during the Middle Ages or the Early Modern period and are important testimonies for the history of lexicography. In this sense, they have a high documentary value. However, they also remain practical instruments in their own right, on a par with the other, more recent dictionaries included in the DLD. This is the case in particular for Firmin le Ver’s Latin-French Dictionarius (1440), one of the greatest medieval lexica. Besides le Ver’s Dictionarius, the DLD currently contains two other Latin-French dictionaries, namely the Dictionarius familiaris et compendiosus of Guillaume le Talleur and the anonymous Dictionarius from a manuscript of Montpellier, alongside the Latin-Spanish Lexicon hoc est dictionarium ex sermone Latino in Hispaniensem of E. A. de Nebrija.

Le Talleur, G. (2002).
Dictionarius familiaris et compendiosus (W. Edwards & B. Merrilees, Eds.).
Turnhout: Brepols.

The Vocabularius familiaris et compendiosus is a Latin-French dictionary from the late Middle Ages. It is one of the final links in the chain of medieval lexicographical transmission which includes the works of Papias, Osbern of Gloucester, Hugutio of Pisa, Brito, Johannes Balbus and their successors.

N.N. (1998).
Dictionarius. Le Glossaire latin-français du MS Montpellier H236 (A. Grondeux, Ed.).
Turnhout: Brepols.

This is a Latin-to-French glossary which dates from the fourteenth century. In this glossary which will not only find rare words such as acirologia (also present in Firminus Verris), but also forms that are absent from the other dictionaries in the DLD.

Nebrija, A. E. de (1974).
Diccionario latino-espanol (Salamanca 1492)
(G. Colón & A.-J. Soberanas, Eds.).
Barcelona: Puvill.

Fundamentally modern in its design and organisation, this work, first published in 1492, occupies a significant place in the history of lexicography. Unlike his predecessors, who in general were interested primarily in rare or obscure words and their etymology, Nebrija, as he explains in his preface, sets out to provide a complete lexicon of classical Latin, with the aim of improving the knowledge of Latin among men and women of letters.

Verris, F. (1994).
Dictionarius. Dictionnaire latin-français de Firmin Le Ver
(B. Merrilees & W. Edwards, Eds.).
Turnhout: Brepols.

This major dictionary produced by the Carthusian Firmin Le Ver draws on several sources, including the thirteenth-century Catholicon by Johannes Balbus of Genoa. The Dictionarius of Firmin Le Ver was produced in 1440 and its organisational quality and bilingual character make it one of the greatest lexical undertak­ings of the Middle Ages. It is not only important in documentary terms, but also remains a most valuable working instrument. For instance, it contains words attested in the textual databases of Brepolis, but in no other dictionary of the DLD; moreover, it is very useful as a starting point for studies on derivative words and compounds, since in nearly all its articles the main lemma is followed by numerous sub-lemmas from the same family.

Scientific responsibility

The Database of Latin Dictionaries is produced by the Centre ‘Traditio Litterarum Occidentalium’ (CTLO) under the direction of Pr. Paul Tombeur. The CTLO continues and develops the former activities in the field of Latin studies carried out by the Cetedoc. The Cetedoc was founded by the Université catholique de Louvain at Louvain-la-Neuve and has been developed jointly with the university.

Related blog Posts

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Related Databases

See also the Library of Latin Texts – Series A, Library of Latin Texts – Series B, the Aristoteles Latinus Database, the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and the Archive of Celtic-Latin Literature.

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