Medieval Latin Dictionary from British Sources

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Classics Faculty


The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources is a unique work of historical reference, based upon the largest
corpus of named authors and the largest archive of literary, archival, and epigraphic sources anywhere in Europe. It
covers not only the usages of the Classical Latin and Late Latin periods (from the beginnings to AD 200 and 200-600),
but the entire period of the Middle Ages: the 1100 years from the sixth century to the sixteenth. It records in the standard
format of the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Latin Dictionary head-words, etymologies, definitions, and
quotations that illustrate usage, documenting a complete range from high literary to archival and even demotic registers,
incorporating words borrowed from a uniquely wide variety of other languages / Greek, Semitic, Celtic, Germanic, and
Romance. As the Dictionary often illustrates use in Latin of vernacular words hundreds of years before their recorded use
in vernacular texts, the work is essential to the study of medieval and modern languages and literatures as well as the
long history of Latin. Even before its completion the Dictionary has established itself as pre-eminent, with widely
acknowledged usefulness to students of language, literature, history, philosophy, genealogy, music, art and architecture,
numismatics, onomastics, topography, and to editors and translators of texts.
Its completion and online availability by 2014 by a combination of AHRC and Packard Humanities Institute funding will be an achievement of
international importance. The Dictionary will be able to cover specific British vocabularies not dealt with in other editions.
It will serve as primary and essential reference volume to the academy.

Planned Impact

The impact of the Dictionary on a public more inclusive than the academic world has been considerable, and it will continue to be extensive. The expertise of the editorial staff has been required for translations of legal documents, and members of staff have served as experts in courts of law dealing with property and mineral rights. They have responded to requests for interpretations of artefacts in collections of national and local museums and to requests from members of the public for translations of varied documents. They have made major contributions to series of documentary films, videos, and CDs about great national figures such as Saint Patrick, comprehensive histories of invasions from Roman times to the Vikings, and specialized subjects such as the history of games in Britain from Roman times to the modern period. They have supplied evidence and texts for the invention of polyphonic music in these islands and Insular contributions to the golden age of medieval motets, also evidence and commentaries for the restorations and inventions of national instruments, such as Welsh and Irish harps, and participated in inaugural performances. Most members of staff have engaged in popular teaching outside the academy. All members of staff have impressive records of publications on a wide variety of subjects, some academic editions, some serious popular translations, some wider disseminations of national cultural and intellectual history, all of them grounded in the basic lexicographical work of the Dictionary, and all of them dedicated to enrichment of national cultural life in ways that can be widely understood and appreciated. All are keenly aware of the need to make specialized linguistic and lexicographical knowledge available in varied media.


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Title Exhibition on the occassion of the completion of the dictionary 
Description The work of the dictionary was documented through an exhibition in the Proscholium of the Bodleian Library (11 Dec 2013 - 16 Feb 2014). This featured posters as well as citation slips and other physical objects relating to the production of the dictionary. The posters are now on permanent display in the basement of the Ioannou Centre for Classical and Byzantine Studies in central Oxford. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact The Bodleian display was entered by anyone who entered the library at the time, i.e. readers and tourists. The display in the faculty building is seen by all visitors. The link below gives an online version of the exhibition (valid and live on 27 Feb 2017). 
Description The DMLBS serves as the primary reference book for those who want access to the literary, diplomatic, and epigraphic monuments of Latin as written in the British Isles during the 1100 years from Gildas in the sixth century to Camden in the sixteenth. Any text or document written in that period, edited or unedited, will be made more accessible by the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources. And since the resource is now available online in two versions, one of them free at the point of use, the dictionary can be used not just by specialised scholars but by anyone interested in the history and culture of Britain.
Exploitation Route The dictionary is primarily a tool which helps with the analysis and understanding of medieval Latin texts and documents of any kind.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The availability of the dictionary as free online resource will have increased its use exponentially, but the nature of the resource makes it impossible to specify the purpose for which it has been accessed
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

Description Annual Support, British Academy
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2011 
End 08/2014
Description John Fell Fund 1
Amount £53,112 (GBP)
Organisation University of Oxford 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2010 
End 09/2011
Description Research grant for Humanities projects
Amount $800,000 (USD)
Organisation Packard Humanities Institute 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 09/2011 
End 04/2014
Description Research grant for Humanities projects to fund assistant editors
Amount $800,000 (USD)
Organisation Packard Humanities Institute 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 09/2011 
End 02/2014
Title Free online version of the DMLBS on the Logeion platform 
Description Logeion is a platform at the University of Chicago which makes classical dictionaries available. It is non-commercial. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact As yet, there is no noteable impact, but anyone who wants to use the dictionary for whatever purpose can now do so on their computer or handheld devices. 
Description International Union of Academies 
Organisation International Academic Union
Country Belgium 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources has a number of sister projects in other European countries. The research teams meet infrequently to exchange information on methodology, notably with a view to digitisation, funding streams etc. Our project was progressing more quickly than some others due to it having a larger team of researchers and was therefore able share information on planning for digitisation etc.
Collaborator Contribution n/a
Impact Each project publishes their own dictionary. So while experience is shared, there are no shared outcomes.
Title Commercial online version with the DMLBS with Brepols Academic Publishers 
Description This is a commercial online version of the DMLBS, which Brepols Publishers offer in connection with their suite of dictionaries and which they link to other databases (e.g. of texts). The licence was granted by the British Academy, since the Academy is the copyright holder for the dictionary. 
IP Reference  
Protection Copyrighted (e.g. software)
Year Protection Granted 2015
Licensed Yes
Impact The dictionary is now available online to researchers in a wide range of fields (Classics, Medieval Studies, Modern Languages), usually via an institutional subscription. I take the opportunity to cross-refer to the lower-spec. but non-subscription-based version of the DMLBS with the Logeion platform at UChicago.