Dictionary of Old English


The Dictionary of Old English (DOE) defines the vocabulary of the first six centuries (C.E. 600-1150) of the English language, using twenty-first century technology. The DOE complements the Middle English Dictionary (which covers the period C.E. 1100-1500) and the Oxford English Dictionary, the three together providing a full description of the vocabulary of English.  Under the direction of editors Angus Cameron, Ashley Crandell Amos, and Antonette diPaolo Healey.

The DOE is based on a computerized Corpus comprising at least one copy of each text surviving in Old English. The total size is almost five times the collected works of Shakespeare. The body of surviving Old English texts encompasses a rich diversity of records written on parchment, carved in stone and inscribed in jewelry. These texts fall into several categories: prose, poetry, glosses to Latin texts and inscriptions. In the prose in particular, there is a wide range of texts: saints' lives, sermons, biblical translations, penitential writings, laws, charters and wills, records (of manumissions, land grants, land sales, land surveys), chronicles, a set of tables for computing the moveable feasts of the Church calendar and for astrological calculations, medical texts, prognostics (the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of the horoscope), charms (such as those for a toothache or for an easy labour), and even cryptograms.

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