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How to Improve Your Latin Vocabulary

By Yann, published on 20/06/2018 We Love Prof > Academia > Latin > Latin Dictionary: The Best Learning Resources

“Nam and ipsa scientia potestas est”

“Knowledge is power” (Latin proverb)

Latin, along with ancient Greek, is one of the classical languages. However, even though Latin is now considered a dead language (we don’t speak it anymore), it’s importance should not be underestimated.

Indeed, the etymological roots of many English words are connected to Latin. You need to look at the formation of words, conjugations and agreements to gain a full understanding of a grammatical rule or an obscure spelling rule.

What better way to study Latin vocabulary than with the help of a great dictionary?

Superprof gives you the best dictionaries to enrich your English-Latin lexicon.

Latin Dictionary: The Oxford Latin Dictionary

Find an English to Latin dictionary online. The dictionary you need to get your hands on! Source: Pixabay

The worlds most authoritative dictionary of Classical Latin, The Oxford Latin Dictionary is unrivaled. It has:

  • 40,000 headwords
  • Nearly 60,000 quotes,
  • 400,000 citations
  • Over 700 Classical sources
  • Introduction by Dr Christopher Stray
  • A new bibliography
  • Newly digitized text

Unfortunately, to purchase this dictionary does not come cheap. However the Oxford Scholarly Edition it is available to view online for free.

Compiled from sources written before AD 200, the dictionary was started in 1933. It was published in eight fascicles between 1968 and 1982 then in 2012 a second edition was released.

The big advantage of using the online resource is that you can search the word directly and get what you need in a flash.

The presentation is clear and easy to use for students of Latin.

The main idea behind this Latin-English dictionary was the need for a more modern version than Lewis & Short‘s somewhat flawed and outdated Latin Dictionary, making learning Latin easier and more accessible for students.

Purchasing this dictionary is certainly an investment and only for those who are serious about the study of Latin.

But don’t despair, the dictionary widget is convenient, easy to use and can help you learn Latin in a flash.

Pocket versions of the dictionary are also available to buy, for a much more affordable price.

Recommended for intermediate learners, this pocket-sized Latin dictionary has 60,000 entries and gives grammatical information for each word. It also has a grammar section at the back as well as historical and mythological names, geographical locations, and maps.

These books will not only help you to remember Latin, but also let you discover it’s rich history!

The English-Latin Dictionary of Smith & Hall

Find an online tutor on Superprof to help you learn latin. It may seem archaic, but nothing can beat a good old dictionary! Source: Pixabay

This work, originally published 1871 under the title A Copious and Critical English-Latin Dictionary, is held in very high regard amongst critics. As seen from various original copyright references, library stamps and other notations, this work has been reproduced from the historical artefact and the authors worked tirelessly to keep it as true to the original as possible.

Smith & Hall continually referred back to the classical texts and reevaluating the meaning of the Latin words and phrases in their original context to produce their masterpiece. Every single translation is supported by references to the sources and illustrated with quotations.

This dictionary stands out from others of the same magnitude in its cultural significance, which greatly helps the student improve their understanding of the ancient world and the very basis of civilisation itself.

An added bonus is that now this source is available online in a fully digitised and searchable form on Latinitium. A great feature of this version is that users can click on any Latin word and be redirected to the corresponding article in Lewis & Short.

Collins Latin Dictionary & Grammar

An all-in-one vocabulary and grammar resource, the Collins Latin Dictionary & Grammar is an easy to use, foolproof guide to Latin. This dictionary is aimed at secondary school as well as university students taking Latin classes who need access to both a dictionary and a grammar reference guide.

In addition to the comprehensive dictionary, it includes a grammar guide with detailed verb tables covering 120 regular verbs and over 300 irregular verbs. The clear presentation and layout mean the student is able to quickly and easily find what they need.

What’s even better for the modern-day student is that this dictionary comes in a Kindle version so you can carry it around everywhere you go.

English-Latin Online Dictionaries

Learn Latin with online dictionaries and websites. To improve your Englis-Latin translation skills, why not use a free online tool? Source: Pixabay

To translate a Latin text into English, to understand a Latin phrase or know where the word’s ending comes from, it is useful to have a reference dictionary. No need to break the bank balance, there’s a range of online dictionaries and databases to assist you with your translations.

Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (TLL)

Widely credited as the most ambitious Latin dictionary ever created, the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae (abbreviated as ThLL or TLL) is a vast online source of information on Latin founded on historical principals. It charts the evolution of the Latin language from its very origin to the time of Isidore of Seville (who died in 636).

The only major disadvantage of this revolutionary Latin dictionary it the fact that it is yet to be finished, and will not be completed any time soon. The project began in 1894 and it was scheduled to be completed around the year 2050. The last fascicle on P was published in 2010, and work is currently underway on both N and R.

The institution responsible for the work on this dictionary is the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Munich. 

So why use the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae?

Thesaurus Linguae Latinae is generally acknowledged as the largest and most detailed Latin dictionary in the world. It is also quite unique, being the first of its kind on the market.

It is designed to be used as the perfect tool to assist not only for research but primary school and even university teaching.

The only dictionary to fully cover all surviving Latin texts, this resource is of tremendous value for Latin learners.

Lexicon Totius Latinitatis

A monolingual Latin dictionary (with translations sometimes given in Italian, French, English, German) written by Forcellini, an Italian philosopher. This source is credited as being very comprehensive and not only includes examples but gives detailed explanations of words. Forcellini’s work has formed the basis of all similar works that have since been published.

The freely accessible website is very easy to use and is a great tool for Latin language learners. Simply pop a word in the search bar and a digitalised version of the relevant page in the dictionary appears. It couldn’t be simpler!

This online source is also available for download in a variety of formats including PDF and Kindle.

How to Enrich Your Latin Vocabulary?

Find a private tutor to help you learn Latin. To succeed in Latin version, as well be surrounded by the best books! Source: Pixabay

Learning a language whether it’s dead or alive requires you to learn vocabulary in order to understand texts as well as the nuances of the language. Of course, a dictionary, just like a quote in Latin, helps you in that very moment to understand the meaning of the word and to remember it.

But actually learning a list of words every now and again allows you to acquire vocabulary more quickly and to translate texts more efficiently.

Ilanguages

For real beginners, Ilanguages gives you a list of the most commonly used words, popular Latin expressions as well as grammatical rules and structures.

Here you’ll learn the numbers, expressions of time and the days of the week, fruit and vegetable, colours, feelings, family vocabulary, place names and even clothes.

You can supplement your learning through flashcards, quivers and learning to read and write letters. By applying what you’ve learned in this way, you will really internalise this classical language.

LingQ

Let’s move on to another resource, LinQ. There are many ways to learn vocabulary on this site either online or with the app.

LinQ lets you become part of a wider online Latin community and make friends from all over the world while learning. It even gives you the options of learning Latin like a child, picking up works and phrases subconsciously.

It’s a great way to have fun while learning!

Learn 101

Learn 101 is a popular language learning website. Besides being completely free, a great advantage of this site is that all the lessons contain audio. You can learn the alphabet, grammar rules, common phrases, vocabulary lists, etc.

There are also exams and translation exercises so you can see if all your hard work is starting to pay off.

So there you go, now you know all the steps to becoming a highly skilled Latinist 😉

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