Editorial prelims

Project Team

Editorial Staff, first edition

Editor P. G. W. Glare

A. Souter 1933–9 W. M. Edwards 1950–68
J. M. Wyllie 1933–54 J. D. Craig 1952–3
C. O. Brink 1938–42 C. L. Howard 1952–8
E. A. Parker 1939–46 G. E. Turton 1954–70
C. Bailey 1939–57 R. H. Barrow 1954–82
Margaret Alford 1942–5 Sophie Trenkner 1955–7
J. Chadwick 1946–52 R. C. Palmer 1957–82
B. V. Slater 1947–9 G. M. Lee 1968–82
D. C. Browning 1949–50 D. Raven 1969–70

For the second edition

Project Manager
Della Thompson

Editors and Proofreaders
Alison Curr, Juliet Field, Ben Harris, Bryn Harris, Andrew Hodgson, Anne McConnell Cheryl Marlowe, Lianna Pike, Jessica Rundell, Angus Stevenson, George Tulloch, Maurice Waite, and Donald Watt

Academic Advisers
Richard Ashdowne ,Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Robert A. Kaster, Tony Smith, Christopher Stray, and Martin West

Ruth Munro

Production Controllers
Anya Aghdam and Karen Bunn

Preface to the second edition

The Oxford Latin Dictionary is the largest and most up to date Latin–English dictionary available today. Covering classical Latin from its beginnings to the end of the second century AD, it is the standard work for students, translators, and scholars of Latin. The dictionary contains 40,000 entries, 100,000 translations, and more than five million words of text, with some 415,000 citations from Latin sources.

The first edition was published as a single volume in 1982, but work on it had started in 1933 and continued for nearly fifty years. The text began appearing in fascicles or parts in 1968.

For this second edition, the whole text has been captured electronically and the constituent parts of each entry tagged according to their function. This has resulted in a fully searchable database, enabling a considerable amount of standardization and harmonization of the original text, and the rechecking of cross-references and bibliographical data. The Addenda and Corrigenda from the first edition have now been incorporated into the main text.

The text has been redesigned to make navigation through entries clearer. The treatment of variants has been rationalized, and citations for subsenses are now shown immediately after the relevant sub-sense rather than in one collected block. For the first time, the work is presented in two volumes for ease of use.

Since work on the first edition began, English spelling and vocabulary have undergone many changes. We have taken this opportunity to update spelling to reflect current practice (particularly with regard to hyphenation), and where possible to replace archaic and obsolete usages with modern equivalents.

A new guide to the dictionary describes the conventions, symbols, and abbreviations used in the text, and provides a group of example entries with notes explaining their structure.

This edition includes a specially commissioned essay on the history of the dictionary by Dr Christopher Stray, using OUP archive material and recording the background to the dictionary’s original compilation. Alongside his essay, we have also reproduced the Publisher’s Note to the first edition, which gives a fuller description of the scope of the work and its original editorial methods and principles. We are very grateful to Christopher Stray for his enthusiasm and encouragement throughout the project.

Special thanks are due above all to Dr Leofranc Holford-Strevens, who patiently responded to hundreds of queries about the contents of the first edition and generously shared his wisdom on questions both simple and complex.

Publisher's Note to the first edition

In May 1931 the Delegates of the Press instructed their officers to investigate the possibility of preparing an entirely new Latin Dictionary. Some eighteen months later draft plans were being approved for the compilation of a dictionary independent alike of Lewis & Short on the one hand and of the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae on the other, which would treat classical Latin from its beginnings to the end of the second century AD, and which was to be approximately one-third longer than Lewis & Short; the work was to be carried out by a staff directly responsible to the Delegates. Professor A. Souter of the University of Aberdeen was appointed editor and Mr J. M. Wyllie was seconded from the Oxford English Dictionary as assistant editor. It was then estimated that such a dictionary would take twelve years to prepare.

Full-time work began in 1933. The task of collecting quotations, which ultimately numbered about a million, was carried out partly by the staff in Oxford and partly by some fifty outside volunteers working in co-operation with the Oxford staff. This was effectively completed and a start made on editorial work, but by 1939 it was clear that progress, whether measured in terms of quality or quantity, was unsatisfactory. In that year Professor Souter retired from the editorship, and Dr Cyril Bailey, a delegate of the Press, and Mr Wyllie were appointed co-editors, with Dr Bailey as the senior.

It is to Mr Wyllie that credit for the scheme of the dictionary and organization of work in the early years is principally due. His departure on military service meant that the hoped-for improvement in the rate of progress was necessarily postponed, though a skeleton staff under Dr Bailey kept the project alive. After the war work was resumed more actively and it was given further impetus by the appointment to the staff of Mr John Chadwick in 1946. In March 1949 Mr Wyllie was appointed sole editor and steps were taken to form an academic advisory committee.

Mr Wyllie’s editorship terminated in 1954; Mr P. G. W. Glare, who had joined the staff in 1950, became acting editor and was confirmed in that position a year later. A fresh study of the situation at the time showed that a thorough revision of most of the edited material, including what had hitherto been thought ready for printing, would be necessary, and that the final work would substantially exceed the limits originally laid down. The Delegates decided that efforts must be made to complete the Dictionary on the existing plan, though they authorized a further increase in length. From then on work proceeded smoothly, and sufficient progress was made for the Delegates to agree to the beginning of printing in 1965. In 1968 the first Fascicle of 256 pages appeared, with the promise of a further seven Fascicles at two-yearly intervals. This promise was kept, and the final Fascicle was published in February 1982.

The main burden of drafting articles was undertaken by those already mentioned, together with Mr C. L. Howard, Mr G. E. Turton, and Mr R. C. Palmer. Professor W. M. Edwards joined the staff in 1950 to read and criticize the drafted articles; he was joined in his task in 1954 by Mr R. H. Barrow, and later by Mr G. M. Lee. The revision of articles after reading was carried out by Mr Palmer and the editor. The proofs were read by Mr Barrow, Mr Lee, Mr A. J. Barron and, in the earlier stages, by Mr A. J. Cornwell.

The Oxford Latin Dictionary is based on an entirely fresh reading of the Latin sources. It follows, generally speaking, the principles of the Oxford English Dictionary, and its formal layout of articles is similar. Within each section or sub-section, quotations are arranged in chronological order, the first example showing, where practicable, the earliest known instance of that particular sense or usage. Accidents of transmission and the concentration of much of the available material within a very short space of time have, however, made it difficult to trace the history of many words; in consequence, not too much reliance should be placed on chronology in the arrangement of senses.

The later limit of the period covered by this dictionary is necessarily imprecise. In practice it means that most of the jurists quoted in Justinian’s Digest have been included, although they run over into the third century, while patristic writings from the last years of the second century have not been drawn upon. (A proposal that the Dictionary should be extended to include Christian Latin had been finally rejected in 1951.) A further complication is that there are many texts of uncertain date whose inclusion or rejection must be arbitrary. But within these limits an attempt has been made to treat thoroughly all known words from any source, literary or non-literary. In addition, proper names have been included where their intrinsic importance appears to warrant it, or where their inclusion was thought to help in the understanding of literary texts. Only brief etymological notes have been given; readers should refer to the standard etymological dictionaries for further information. The inclusion of articles on the principal suffixes used in word-formation is an innovation in Latin lexicography.