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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 offers several kinds of dictionaries: defining and translating, thematic, medieval and early modern. Therefore, the DLD is a major tool both for students learning Latin and for experienced scholars.

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 or Non-Latin, can be the object of complex queries using various criteria, singly or in combination.

Starting in 2005 with only two dictionaries, it has now grown into a large collection of 20 dictionaries. Each year at least one dictionary is added and various improvements are made to the existing ones. These improvements can be corrections to the original text, increased search possibilities or the addition of newly published addenda. The DLD strives to give its users 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.

Besides the dictionaries, the DLD also offers a complete list of attested word forms and their corresponding lemmas. These lists are based on years of research and text analysis done by 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.

Three kinds of dictionaries

The dictionaries of the DLD are of three kinds.

a.         Defining and translating dictionaries

“Defining” dictionaries are those providing semantic (and in some cases etymological as well) explanations in Latin of Latin words, dictionaries such as Forcellini’s Lexicon and Onomasticon and the Glossarium of Du Cange,

“Translating” dictionaries are dictionaries 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 of A. Blaise, and M. Pérez’ Lexicon on Medieval Latin from the Kingdom of León.

The defining and translations dictionaries are here divided into three periods:

  • Antiquity, the period from the beginning of Latin literature (third century B.C.) until, roughly, the second century A.D. So, the dictionaries here concerned are the ones pertaining to so-called “Classical” texts and also to inscriptions dating from this time, that is to say: Forcellini’s Lexicon and Onomasticon, and the dictionary of Lewis & Short. Note that these three dictionaries also take into account authors from the Patristic Period, for example Augustine and Isidore of Seville.
  • The Patristic Period, from the second century until 735 (death of the Venerable Bede). The DLD provides here the two reference dictionaries: the Dictionnaire latin des auteurs chrétiens by A. Blaise (‘Patristic Blaise’), and the Glossary of Later Latin, by A. Souter.
  • The Middle Ages and later. All the dictionaries belonging to this section concern Medieval Latin, but three of them, the Glossarium of Du Cange, the A. Blaise’s Lexicon latinitatis medii aevi (‘Medieval Blaise’) and the Glossarium of A. Bartal, extend their chronological limits to the Modern Period.

In this section a distinction must be made between general and national/regional dictionaries. By “general” are meant works such the Du Cange and the Medieval Blaise that don’t focus on a particular geographical area, while the term “national” or “regional” applies to works that indeed do so. This second type of dictionary is justified by the fact that during the Middle Ages, Latin was becoming more and more different from one country or even one region to another, being influenced by vernacular languages and local realities. In its current state, the DLD contains dictionaries treating four countries or regions: Great Britain, with the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, Hungary, with the Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis regni Hungariae of A. Bartal, Italy, with the Latinitatis Italicae medii aevi Lexicon by Fr. Arnaldi (et alii), and the Kingdom of León (northwest Spain) with the Lexicon Latinitatis Medii Aevi Regni Legionis of M. Pérez González.

b.        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. But they are also practical instruments in themselves, as are the other dictionaries, in particular Firmin le Ver’s Latin-French Dictionarius (1440), one of the greatest medieval lexica.

Besides Firmin le Ver’s Dictionarius, the DLD currently presents two other Latin-French dictionaries, namely the Dictionarius familiaris et compendiosus of Guillaume le Talleur and the anonymous Dictionarius from a manuscript of Montpellier, as well as the Latin-Spanish Lexicon hoc est dictionarium ex sermone Latino in Hispaniensem of E. A. de Nebrija.

c.         Thematic dictionaries

Thematic dictionaries gather and explain the specific vocabulary of given fields. As such, they often have not only a lexical, but also an encyclopedic character, going beyond the strict definition/translation of an isolated word to expose further developments.

Currently, users can deepen their knowledge:

  • in ecclesiastical Latin vocabulary and about the Church in general with the Latin-English Dictionary of ecclesiastical Latin by L. F. Stelten, and especially A. Sleumer’s Kirchenlateinisches Wörterbuch, still a major work of reference in the field;
  • in philosophical and scientific Latin vocabulary, as well as about the state of philosophy and science in the 17th 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 this century, which itself can be described as the “century of Latin philosophical lexicography”.

The DLD also contains a thematic dictionary of a different kind: L. Ramshorn’s Lateinische Synonymik, so a dictionary of synonyms. This work can be considered as thematic since each article constitutes a theme in itself, bringing up an impressive series of words or phrases close in meaning, providing an invaluable aid to any thematic research in Latin texts.

Languages

While being in essence a database of Latin dictionaries, the DLD is also multilingual through the translations, explanations and examples provided in various languages, and this adds to its richness.

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

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.

Coverage

Defining and translating dictionaries

a.       Antiquitiy

Forcellini, G. Furlanetto, Fr. Corradini, J. Perin

Lexicon Totius Latinitatis, 1940

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 lies also in his bibliographical notes and his numerous multilingual translations (into French, German, English, Spanish and Italian).

Forcellini, J. Perin

Lexicon Totius Latinitatis. Onomasticon (auctore J. Perin), 1940

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

T. Lewis, Ch. Short

Latin Dictionary, 1879

The Lewis and Short dictionary remains the standard Latin-English dictionary.

b.        Patristic Period

Albert Blaise

Dictionnaire latin-français des auteurs chrétiens, 1967

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 when the words are used in new senses, and thus 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 corrections (addenda et delenda).

 

Souter

A glossary of Later Latin to 600 A.D., 1957

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

c.         The Middle Ages and later

Albert Blaise

Lexicon latinitatis medii aevi, 1975

Following his dictionary for the Latin of the Church Fathers, continuing his work on lexicography, in 1975 Albert Blaise published the Lexicon latinitatis medii aeui. In his wish to be helpful and counter the absence of lexical works for scholastic literature, the author has included attestations from beyond the traditional upper limit of the Middle Ages and did not even recoil from inserting some modern terms, for instance those used in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

 

du Fresne (‘du Cange’)

Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis

The entire inputting of the medieval Glossarium of Du Cange – taken from the late-nineteenth-century edition, and including the addenda – has been completed by the CTLO and is now searchable. Users are able to search the entire lexical data gathered by Du Cange and his successors through an index of Latin words.

 

Fr. Arnaldi, P. Smiragli

Latinitatis italicae medii aevi lexicon (saec. Vex.-saec. XII in.), 2001

This Lexicon is devoted to the vocabulary of the Latin texts of Italy from the end of the fifth to the beginning of the eleventh century. This book gathers, in a single volume, the three tomes of the Latinatis Italicae Medii Aevi Lexicon imperfectum, issued in 1939, 1951-1953, 1957-1964 respectiveley, and 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 regularly integrated.

 

Bartal

Glossarium mediae et infimae Latinitatis regni Hungariae, 1901

The Glossarium mediae et infimae latinitatis Regni Hungariae, commissioned to 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 also often refers, and it focuses primarily on a vocabulary of realia relating to every kind of area.

It systematically provides Latin definitions together with Hungarian translations, and often gives German translations as well.

Its sources are mainly historical, but also ecclesiastical, legal, administrative, diplomatic.

 

Pérez González

Lexicon Latinitatis Medii Aevi Regni Legionis (s. VIII-1230) imperfectum, 2010

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 union between the Kingdoms of León and Castile.

 

E. Latham, D. R. Howlett & R. K. Ashdowne

Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, 1975-2013

The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources, published by the British Academy, is the most extensive dictionary of Medieval Latin to have been produced and the first ever devoted to British medieval Latin. Covering a particularly long period, which stretches 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 computerized databases, including the Library of Latin Texts (LLT-A and LLT-B), where many texts have served as source material for the DMLBS.

Thematic dictionaries

Ludwig Ramshorn

Lateinische Synonymik. Nach Gardin-Dumesnil’s Synonymes latins neu bearbeitet und vermehrt (2 vol., 1831 & 1833)

As stated in its subtitle, the book is a reworked and considerably developed version of Jean-Baptiste Gardin Dumesnil’s Synonymes latins (following the 4th edition of 1827). Each of the 1,366 entries in the Synonymik brings up an at times impressive series of words or phrases close in meaning, providing an invaluable aid to any thematic research in Latin texts. The richness and value of this book are all the greater because this is not a synonym dictionary stricto sensu, for it also brings together terms that lie within the same semantic field without being actual synonyms, thus opening a wider perspective.

Sleumer

Kirchenlateinisches Wörterbuch, 2011

Published in 1926 and reprinted five times (most recently in 2011), Albert Sleumer’s Kirchenlateinischen Wörterbuch remains a key reference work in its field. As a Latin-German dictionary of more than 34,000 entries, it covers an extended period, running from Late Antiquity to the beginning of the 20th century. It focuses on the Vulgate, on works on the liturgy, (breviary, Roman missal), hagiography, canon law (such as the Codex iuris canonici of 1917), and on administrative texts.

 

L.F. Stelten

Dictionary of Ecclesiastical Latin, 1995

The approximately 17,000 entries which comprise this work are for the most part devoted to terms from the Scriptures, from canon law, from liturgy and from the texts of the Second Vatican Council. The numerous expressions, formulae, titles, explanations of abbreviations, etc. contained in the dictionary are particularly useful.

 

Johannes Micraelius

Lexicon Philosophicum terminorum philosophis usitatorum, 1662

The 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 given over to the sciences, notably to natural sciences. One of the most striking characteristics 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 book “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).

Chauvin

Lexicon philosophicum, 1713

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 emphasis it gives to the sciences, but above all to physics, chemistry, astronomy and anatomy.

Medieval dictionaries

Firmini Verris Dictionarius

Dictionnaire latin-français de Firmin Le Ver, ed. by B. Merrilees and W. Edwards, 1994

This major dictionary produced by the Carthusian, Firmin Le Ver, drew 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 very useful as a work instrument. For instance, it contains words attested in the textual databases of Brepolis, but in no other dictionary of DLD; moreover, it is very useful as a starting point for studies on derivative words and compounds, since in nearly almost its articles the main lemma is followed by numerous sub-lemmas from the same family.

 

Guillaume le Talleur

Dictionarius familiaris et compendiosus, ed. by W. Edwards and B. Merrilees, 2002

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.

 

Anonymi Montepessulanensis Dictionarius, ed. by A. Grondeux,1998

This is a Latin-to-French glossary which dates from the 14th century. Not only will rare words be found here, such as acirologia (also present in Firminus Verris), but this glossary also witnesses forms which are absent from the other dictionaries in the DLD.

A. de Nebrija

Lexicon hoc est dictionarium ex sermone Latino in Hispaniensem, ed. by G. Colón and A.-J. Soberanas, 1974

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.

Related blog Posts

For more information or news, please go to the blog Posts.

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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