Oxford Latin Dictionary


The Oxford Latin Dictionary (or OLD) is the standard English lexicon of Classical Latin, compiled from sources written before AD 200. Begun in 1933, it was published in fascicles between 1968 and 1982; a lightly revised second edition was released in 2012.

Oxford Latin Dictionary
AuthorP. G. W. Glare
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication date
1968 to 1982; reprinted with corrections 1996; 2nd edition 2012
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
473/.21 19
LC ClassPA2365 .E5 O9 2012

The dictionary was created in order to meet the need for a more modern Latin-English dictionary than Lewis & Short's A Latin Dictionary (1879),[1] while being less ambitious in scope than the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (in progress). It was based on a new reading of classical sources in the light of the advances in lexicography in creating the Oxford English Dictionary.



Although Lewis and Short's Latin Dictionary was widely used in the English world by the end of the nineteenth century, its faults were widely felt among classicists.[2] While Oxford University Press had attempted the creation of a new Latin dictionary as early as 1875, these projects failed. The OLD was spurred by the submission of a 1924 report by Alexander Souter on the deficiencies of Lewis and Short; he eventually became the dictionary's first editor. The compilation of the more than one million quotations on which the work was based began in 1933. After Souter's retirement in 1939, Cyril Bailey and J.M. Wyllie were appointed co-editors. From 1949, Wyllie was the sole editor, and he was replaced, following tensions among the editorial staff, in 1954 by P.G.W. Glare, who remained in the position until the completion of the lexicon.[3] The dictionary was originally published in eight fascicles at two years intervals from 1968 until 1982. The complete dictionary contains c. 40,000 entries (covering 100,000 senses). Classicists generally well received it.[4]

Other members of the editorial staff included C.O. Brink (1938–42), E.A. Parker (1939–46), M. Alford (1942–45), J. Chadwick (1946–52), B.V. Slater (1947–49), D.C. Browning (1949–50), W.M. Edwards (1950–69), J.D. Craig (1952–53), C.L. Howard (1952–58), G.E. Turton (1954–70), R.H. Barrow (1954–82), S. Trenkner (1955–57), R.C. Palmer (1957–82), G.M. Lee (1968–82), and D. Raven (1969–70).

In 2012, a second edition of the dictionary was published in two volumes (the binding of the 1982 single-volume edition tends to fall apart under the paper's weight); it removes some English translations now considered to be archaic and presents the material in a clearer fashion using the Arno typeface.

Comparison with other dictionaries


Although the OLD was intended as a replacement for Lewis and Short's dictionary from 1879, its lack of information about Latin writings from after AD 200 has drawn criticism from its users.[5] Lewis and Short's coverage of late and ecclesiastical Latin (if inconsistent), combined with the fact that this dictionary is freely available online, has meant that it has remained in continuous use.

The Thesaurus Linguae Latinae is far more ambitious than the OLD, but after more than 100 years, only two-thirds of this comprehensive dictionary has been published.[6]

See also



  1. ^ Stray, Christopher (3 May 2012). "The bizarre history of the Oxford Latin Dictionary". OUPblog. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  2. ^ Leeper, Alexander (1899). "Notes on Lewis and Short's Latin-English Lexicon". The American Journal of Philology. 20 (2): 169–85. doi:10.2307/287803. ISSN 0002-9475. JSTOR 287803.
  3. ^ Stray, Christopher (2012). "The Oxford Latin Dictionary: A Historical Introduction". In P.G.W. Glare (ed.). Oxford Latin dictionary (PDF) (2 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. xi–xvii. ISBN 9780199580316. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 March 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  4. ^ Barrow, R. H. (October 1968). "The 'Oxford Latin Dictionary'". Greece & Rome. 15 (2): 127–129. doi:10.1017/s0017383500017472. ISSN 0017-3835. JSTOR 642423. S2CID 162638662. Luck, Georg (Spring 1984). "Review of Oxford Latin Dictionary by P.G.W. Glare". The American Journal of Philology. 105 (1): 91–100. doi:10.2307/294632. ISSN 0002-9475. JSTOR 294632.
  5. ^ Henderson, John (2010). "A1–ZYTHUM: DOMIMINA NUSTIO ILLUMEA, or Out with the OLD (1931–82)". In Christopher Stray (ed.). Classical dictionaries: past, present and future. London: Duckworth. pp. 139–76. ISBN 9780715639160.
  6. ^ Hays, Gregory (2007). "Latin from A to P: The TLL in the 20th Century". Transactions of the American Philological Association. 137 (2): 483–90. doi:10.1353/apa.2008.0006. ISSN 1533-0699. S2CID 162389411. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  • Oxford Scholarly Editions Online