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Dictionary of Medieval Latin (MLW)


Dictionary Structure

General Remarks

As it is common practice in dictionaries, the lemmata (headwords) are arranged in strict alphabetical order, still there is no distinction of u and v. This order is breached when, a.o., participles of a verb are immediately attached. The article facio (p. 19,52sqq.) illustrates a main lemma followed by a whole string of sublemmata:

  • adi. 1. faciens, -entis,
  • 2. factus, -a, -um,
  • subst. 1. faciens, -entis m.,
  • 2. faciens, -entis n.,
  • 3. facienda, -orum n.,
  • 4. fienda, -orum n.,
  • 5. factus, -i m.,
  • 6. facta, -ae f.
  • 7. factum, -i n.

Headword Entry

The article begins with a headword in bold type (above: factio), with a short information on a.o. Gender (cf. p. 33,64) or Part of Speech (cf. p. 34,57) and often encountered spelling variants (here the variant faccio; usually a lemma abbreviation only occurs, if the hyphen [divis] replaces more than two letters).

«Asterisk Words» and Etymology

With asterisk-words (i.e. lemmata, not included in the TLL and therefor considered neologisms within the frame of the MLW; they are marked by a six-pointed asterisk) and words borrowed from the Greek, there are also information on the etymology (cf. e.g. above p. 7,48 s. v. *fabricinium), which can only be omitted if the etymon can be found in the lemma’s surrounding and therefore doesn’t need any further explanation.

Preliminary section

The headword entry is immediately followed by the preliminary section. Here, more spellings (script.) are presented referring into into the article or with references (in the latter case instances extending beyond are added and marked with adde, which is also used in the article itself for similar phenomena); furthermore this section also refers to deviations in gender or form, (form.), special verb forms, metric characteristics (metr., prosod.), confusions with other words (introduced with the wording: confunditur c. ...).

The Semantic Part of the Article

This general information is followed by the semantic part of the article. Frequently the word meanings are differentiated on the upper level of classification in a way, that results in one main group is being opposed by another (dichotomy). This occurs a.o. when a word has an (original) basic meaning, ideally the actual meaning (cf. e.g. in German «Bein»), which is contrasted by a transferred level (e.g. «Tischbein»); I and II (eventually IIIIV etc.), A and B (C etc.), 1 and 2 (3 etc.) etc. are mutually exclusive. Because indeed each word has its own character, the dichotomious disposition is replaced by a string of nuances.

Typical Contrasting Pairs in the Article Structure (Disposition)

Examples of typical contrasting pairs are (please find explanations of abbreviations here):

  • proprie – translate
  • intrans. – trans.
  • in univ. – ...

There is also the possibility of up to four categories meeting, opposing each other. – cf. e.g. the article ianua: If you click on the lemma, you will see the beginning of the article; there, the according places (1 proprie; 2 in imag.3 alleg.4 translate) are marked red.

The category in univ. can be opposed by: 

  • c. colore quodam (sim.)
  • alleg.
  • in imag.
  • c. notione ...
  • spectat ad ... (cf. a.o. s. v. favilla p. 104,13.16)
  • gener. – spec.

The category gener. can also be opposed by a.o.:

  • per compar.;
  • eccl., liturg., canon.;
  • natur. et medic.;
  • gramm., log., philos., theol.;
  • natur. et techn.;
  • publ., iur., canon.;
  • techn. et alch.

All thematic or technical subject areas named in these groups subject also occur separately.

  • de anim. – de rebus

The MLW text corpus inherently contains numerous allusions to classic Latin or Greek texts, especially in the field of vulgata. Depending on the source code’s degree of influence, with such patterns there is distinction according to  

  • cf. Vulg. ...
  • spectat ad Vulg. ...
  • e(x) ... (with other source codes)

Formulating the interpretaments requires to acknowledge, that metalinguistic explanations are given in Latin only (cf. a.o. vol. IV. p. 33,64 proprie – vol. IV. p. 34,21 metonymice), the word meanings are indicated in Latin and German. In borderline cases (a.o. with termini technici) the MLW forgoes the equalisation of Latin paraphrasing of facts and German translation: cf. a.o. s.v. facetia vol. IV. p. 12,65sq.: spectat ad morem in conviviis servandum (‘Tischzucht’, de re v. LexMA. VIII. p. 808sqq.).

Example of Disposition

Five markable levels are available for structuring an article: I A 1 a α. Should they not suffice or should special cases arise within a group, though clearly distinguishable yet not assignable to another category, they are separated from the other part of the level by a spatium (cf. a.o. s. v. factio [p. 34,30] and below the nuance ).

The example article factio handles the disposition as follows:

  • I proprie
    • A gener. i. q. actio faciendi, facinus — das Tun, Treiben, Handeln, Tat
      • 1 in bonam vel neutram partem
      • 2 in malam partem i. q. machinatio, facinus pravum — boshaftes (Be-)Treiben, Umtrieb, Machenschaft
      • 3 coniuratio — Verschwörung, Aufruhr
    • B philos. i. q. actio producendi — das Hervorbringen
  • II meton.
    • A gener.
      • 1 labor — Arbeit
      • 2 partes, secta — Partei
        • societas — Gemeinschaft
      • 3 pars (exercitus) — (Heeres-)Abteilung
    • B iur.
      • 1 ius faciendi — das Recht (etwas) zu machen
      • 2 tributum, vectigal, exactio — Abgabe, Steuer, Leistung
      • 3 negotium, conventum — Rechtsakt, (Rechts-)Geschäft, Abmachung, Vertrag

Frequency of Occurences

Since given materials are represented differently in the articles, the following indications are available to point out the frequency of further occurences beyond the ones cited: 

at least two more instances are found in the MLW material ca. 10–15 more instances are found in the materialca. 15–25 more instances are found in the materialmore than 25 instances are found in the material

Is there no such marking at the end of a group, it just means, that the slip material does not show any other occurence.


Cross-references within the MLW are made in the same column with line reference (e.g. l. 26), otherwise with page and line reference (p. 43,27); references beyond the volume also include the volume (e.g. vol. III. p. 1,13).

Author of Article

The author of an article is named at the right end of page. In the consecutive dictionary text, the name can always be found at the end of a lemma section.