A Latin Dictionary
A Latin Dictionary is a popular English-language lexicographical work of the Latin language, completed in 1879, published by Oxford University Press, and still widely used by classical scholars and Latinists.
The work's full title is A Latin Dictionary: Founded on Andrews' Edition of Freund's Latin Dictionary: Revised, Enlarged, and in Great Part Rewritten by Charlton T. Lewis, Ph.D. and Charles Short, LL.D. It is usually referred to as Lewis and Short after the names of its editors, Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short. It was derived from the 1850 English translation by Ethan Allen Andrews of an earlier Latin-German dictionary, Wörterbuch der Lateinischen Sprache, by the German philologist Wilhelm Freund. The Andrews translation was partially revised by Freund himself, then by Henry Drisler, and was finally edited by Short and Lewis.
The division of labour between the two editors was remarkably unequal. Short was solely responsible for the entries beginning with the letter A (216 pages); Lewis was solely responsible for the entries beginning with the letters B through Z (1803 pages). This may account for the more prominent billing Lewis received in the dictionary's title.
The dictionary's full text is available on-line from the Perseus Project. Lewis and Short is also available for off-line consultation, by means of various applications.
Comparison with other dictionaries
Among classicists, Lewis and Short has been largely superseded by the Oxford Latin Dictionary, called the OLD for short. Lewis and Short incorporated material from existing Latin dictionaries; the OLD, by contrast, started from scratch, following procedures similar to those of the well-regarded Oxford English Dictionary. Thanks to the increased availability of modern editions, the OLD editors had access to a larger variety of classical works. Although classicists still consult Lewis and Short, they tend to prefer the OLD.
On the other hand, Lewis and Short remains a standard reference work for medievalists, renaissance specialists, and early modernists, as the dictionary covers Late and Medieval Latin, if somewhat inconsistently. The OLD, when used on its own, rarely meets their needs, since it was decided early in the OLD's planning that the work would not encompass works written later than A.D. 200. A few exceptions were made for especially important texts from the late classical period, such as Augustine's De Civitate Dei, but for periods later than that the OLD is considerably less useful. The forthcoming Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources will supplement the OLD for medieval usage of Latin words.
In cases where Lewis and Short do not answer a medieval usage question, J. F. Niermeyer's Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus often supplies an answer. The Lexicon Minus was completed in 1976 by C. van de Kieft after Niermeyer's death, and has since become a standard reference work. More recent editions of the Lexicon Minus have corrections and expansions; also, in later editions all words are defined in English, French and German, making it of greater international importance than Lewis and Short. The Glossarium ad scriptores media et infirmae latinitatis completed in 1678 by Charles du Fresne (commonly referred to as Du Cange after the author's title, the Sieur du Cange) is now less frequently used, as Niermeyer's Lexicon Minus incorporates much of its information.
In 1890 Lewis published a heavily abridged version of Lewis and Short, entitled An Elementary Latin Dictionary for the use of students. Sometimes called the Elementary Lewis, it is still in print today, and remains a useful reference for students.
On occasion people confuse Lewis and Short (or L&S) with Liddell and Scott, its Greek counterpart, entitled A Greek–English Lexicon. The 1945 and later editions of Liddell and Scott are commonly referred to by the abbreviation LSJ after the names of its editors Liddell, Scott and the editor of the 1945 revision, Jones.
- See the advertisement of the book itself, available on WikiSource.
- Mueller, Janel M. "Oxford Latin Dictionary" (review). Modern Philology, Vol. 83, No. 2. (Nov., 1985), pp. 223–225.
- Brooke, C. N. L. "Mediae Latinitatis Lexicon Minus" (review). The English Historical Review, Vol. 93, No. 368. (Jul., 1978), pp. 655–656.
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- Browse text at Perseus
- Perseus Word Study Tool, including Lewis and Short and the Elementary Latin Dictionary
- Glossa, Lewis and Short for the web and desktop (based on Adobe AIR)
- Lexidium, Lewis and Short for iPhone/iPod touch
- Verba, Lewis and Short for Mac OS X
- Diogenes, ancient text browsing application including Lewis and Short
- The Latin Lexicon – An Online Latin Dictionary, based on the Elementary Latin Dictionary by Charlton T. Lewis
- Catalogue page of print edition at the Oxford University Press
- Catalogue page of the Elementary Lewis at the Oxford University Press
- Lewis & Short's Latin–English Dictionary for Windows with color-coded definitions and quotations
- Latin English Lexicon for Kindle.