An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary
by Joseph Bosworth and T. Northcote Toller


Kindly supported by:

Faculty of Arts
& Grant Agency
Charles University in Prague

Jan Hus Educational Foundation


The Dictionary Application is a Windows 2000/XP compatible program (see for Mac version) that allows users to work with the data of the Anglo-Saxon Dictionary of Bosworth & Toller, which are made available through the Germanic Lexicon Project. The Application is intended for all who need a dictionary of Old English and either cannot afford the printed version or want to make use of the special features of the electronic version like full-text search or copy-paste support. A limited search is also available on-line.


The Dictionary — A full bibliographical record of the dictionary commonly referred to as "Bosworth-Toller" would be something like this:

Bosworth, Joseph. An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, based on the manuscript collections of the late Joseph Bosworth. Eds. T. Northcote Toller and Alistair Campbell. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1838-1972 (ISBN 0198631014; main volume as “A Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language”, London: Longman, 1838; edited by Toller, 1882-1898; Toller’s Supplement, 1921; reprinted 1966; Campbell’s Enlarged Addenda and Corrigenda to the Supplement, 1972; 2069 pages)

The sheer span of its re-publication testifies to the longstanding primacy of the dictionary whose first appearance nearly 180 years ago was heralded as “to form an era in this study”. Indeed, it was the first Old English dictionary to render its definitions in English (rather than Latin, though Somner’s dictionary used both languages in many entries) and it has remained, through its re-edition and supplement by T.N. Toller and subsequent addenda and corrigenda by Alistair Campbell, the most complete work of Old English lexicography until today. However, the original Dictionary of Anglo-Saxon Language and the first two parts of its re-edition that were completed by Bosworth himself did not reflect most of the important development made in Anglo-Saxon studies during the 19th century, especially in phonology. Some of these deficiencies were subsequently remedied by Toller, the structure planned by Bosworth was altered and many words from prose were added by Toller himself, while he relied mostly on Grein to supply poetical expressions and the respective citations, but some outdated features were retained for the sake of consistency with the first two parts. The main volume as such has not changed much since then, but citations from modern editions were added by Campbell in 1972 together with all words appearing in Clark-Hall’s 3rd edition and about 750 completely new words. In its current state, after 1972 revision, this philological and translating dictionary offers detailed definitions, plentiful citations, basic grammar information, cognates and secondary references, but some of its assumptions may be outdated. Its structure is far from consistent and searching through its main volumes and two supplements may prove rather strenuous.

The Digitisation — The digitisation was carried out as a part of the excellent Germanic Lexicon Project under Sean Crists supervision between 2001-2007. The second edition of the dictionary from 1921 was used due to legal issues. More information about the digitisation itself may be found here. The hand corrections were carried out by many volunteers and a team under Jan Cermak, which was supported by a Jan Hus Educational Foundation grant in 2005-7. Current plans are to finish minor hand corrections by adding all the non-Latin characters and re-tag the data to achieve a usable structural or semantic tagging.

The Application — The application was written in Delphi (an Object Pascal) by Ondrej Tichy. Current plans are to release a minor update after all the hand corrections of the data are finished and then develop a brand new application to cope with the semantically tagged data.



website © Ondrej Tichy 2006-7