Resource Review: Basic Latin Dictionaries

May 5, 2010

I spent some time discussing the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae the other week; now I want to cover the most commonly used latin dictionaries, the ones that undergraduate students are likely to own personally or consult online.

The standard latin dictionary for 100 years was Lewis and Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford 1879).  (My mother has a copy that was her grandfather’s when he was in graduate school; he had a PhD in philosophy from Chicago and taught at St. John’s College in Annapolis.  My family history is littered with Classics scholars.  But I digress.)  Jenkins (no. 510) says it “is based on antiquated principles and obsolete editions; it also contains many errors.”  It is, as Jenkins notes, still widely used, and its availability online at Perseus must make its use extra tempting for many students!  The UGA Library owns it in print and there are several copies of various printings in the Alexander Room in Classics.

The completion of the Oxford Latin Dictionary in 1982 (discussed in Jenkins as no. 508) meant there was a new standard dictionary of Latin.  As Jenkins notes, this dictionary was modeled in form on the Oxford English Dictionary and like the OED contains numerous examples illustrating usage.  It covers down to the 2nd century CE, with some coverage to the 3rd century but “Christian Latin is out of scope.”  There are print copies in Main Reference and the stacks, and three in the Alexander Room.  There is a pocket edition available, which I imagine is what undergraduates are recommended to purchase.  The pocket edition is available digitally as one of the titles in the Premium Collection of Oxford Reference Online but is not a part of  Oxford Language Dictionaries Online.  (UGA does not subscribe to either.)

As usual with my posts, I welcome any comments, especially those that correct any errors I may make!


  1. […] 2010 This post is a bit of a catch-all, following the more detailed discussions of TLL and the standard latin dictionaries, dealing with what Jenkins recommends and what we own at UGA, especially in Main […]

  2. […] Souter and Blaise (above) as well as Forcellini (discussed here) and Lewis & Short (discussed here), and a few other dictionaries, including historical (late medieval) ones.  It is described as […]

  3. how about lewis elementary dictionary? I get an impression that novice latin student would get that at the first choice?

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