This page covers some basic topics concerning the online Dictionary (BT). If your question is not covered, look & ask in the Forums, or Contact us directly.

The topics covered here:

Navigating the Dictionary

To find relevant entries, use the Basic Search to the left, or the Advanced Search button. You may also click on the letters along the top of the page to see all entries starting with that letter.

On the entry page, previous and following entries (in the order of the paper dictionary) can be reached by "Previous Entry" and "Next Entry" links.

Alphabetically close entries are displayed to the left - items from the Main volume of the dictionary are in bold, items from the Supplement are not in bold.

General information About the dictionary, Guestbook and other Forums, Contact form and information and this Help are available through the link in the top right corner of the page.

Basic Search

Type your search string into the text box on the left to see the suggested entries. You may select one of the suggestions or click Search. Use the buttons above the text box to enter ash - æ and thorn - þ (all the headwords are spelled with thorn - þ, while and eth - ð is only used in the text of the entries). The diacritical marks (acute signs or macrons indicating vowel length) are ignored in the search. Compounds may be hyphenated or non-hyphenated, although the hyphenated variants will not generate suggestions. Suggestions are based on headwords starting with your search string. Therefore, if you search for "rædþeahten", "rædþeahtende" will be suggested and it will take you to the entry "rǽd-þeahtende" if selected.

If no headwords start (or are identical) with your search string, all headwords containing the search string in any position are returned. Therefore, if you search for "eahted", nothing is suggested, but after you submit the search, entries like "ge-eahtedlic" will be returned.

If no headwords contain your searchstring, full-text search of the text of the entries will be carried out. Therefore, if you search for "dryhtenes" entries containing that word, like "dryhten" will be returned. This is also useful to find OE equivalents of Modern English words - try searching for "autumn".

Basic search tries to do all the decision for you. If you want to have better control over the results or you need more sophisticated search conditions, use the Advanced Search.

Advanced Search

The Advanced Search is accessed using the button above the basic search text box.

The individual features or conditions of the search are at the top. You can limit the results by search strings presence and positions in the headword or in the text of the entries and you can combine more of such conditions for each using the More Options button. This way, you may for example search for all headwords containing "mod", but not starting with it, or for all entries containing "lord", but not "god". 

Further restrictions on the morphology (like word-class/part of speech, gender, class membership etc.) of the results may be set by the checkboxes.

Number of results may be set by the Items per page option.

Reading Entries

  • At the top centre of the entry page is a blue box with the headword, pronunciation, morphological information and external links: [1]
    • At the top centre of the entry page is the HEADWORD in bold capital letters. 
    • Below the headword is a suggested PRONUNCIATION in IPA. The pronunciation is automatically generated and is therefore only a suggestion, please take it with a grain of salt.
    • Next comes the MORPHOLOGICAL INFORMATION like word-class/part of speech, gender or class membership.
    • Following the morphological information are LINKS TO EXTERNAL RESOURCES, namely to individual paragraphs of Wright's Old English Grammar, and to the headwords in the Oxford English Dictionary, the New English Dictionary, the Middle English DictionaryDictionary of Old English and its Corpus and the Indo-European Lexicon Dictionary in English. Note that the OED and the DOE are subscription based services. The links are based on the BT headwords and the search engines of the external resources (or Google, in case of the PIE). Therefore, the links are not 100% reliable.
  • Above the entry itself is a rectangle with three radio buttons that switch between different STANDARDS OF VOWEL LENGTH MARKING in the OE examples. The original BT practice was to mark length with acute accents (slanted lines - to distinguish it from macron - horizontal lines - as used in the Latin translations) and in diphthongs to mark the second vowel. The current practice is to mark the length with macrons and to mark the first vowel in a diphthong. The third option reflects the OE practice to not indicate the length at all. This can be useful if you are copying the material elsewhere. [2]
  • The entry itself is structured into several optional components: headword, grammatical information, definitions, OE examples, English or Latin translations, references, etymological information, derivations and cross-references to other entries. These can be structured into a hierarchy of senses and sub-senses on the basis of meaning or grammar. Note that the structure is not consistent and can be much more fluid than the description here suggests.
    • GRAMMATICAL INFORMATION: forms of the paradigm, variants (diachronic, dialectal or scribal), morphology [3]
    • DEFINITIONS: equivalents and explanations of the meaning and usage in English or Latin [4]
    • EXAMPLES: illustrative samples of Old English [5]
    • TRANSLATIONS: full or partial translations and commentaries of the examples in English or Latin [6]
    • REFERENCES: sources of the examples in abbreviated form, the full reference is displayed by hovering over the abbreviation. Sources that are freely available on the internet are linked directly. [7]
    • ETYMOLOGY: lists of cognates from other Germanic languages and commentary on the words etymology or later development [8]
    • DERIVATIONS: words and word forms derived from this entry [9]
    • CROSS-REFERENCES: links (sometimes clickable) to related entries [10]
  • Below the entry itself and to the left is a list of all entries that have been marked as LINKED/RELATED to this one. These are usually variants, parts of the same morphological or word formation paradigm. [11]
  • To the right is the CITATION button that automatically creates a citation for the current entry. See also "Citing the Dictionary[12]
  • Below the linked entries is an information bar with the location of the current entry in the PAPER DICTIONARY and the links to browse the scanned pages or to show the scanned page of the current entry (for example if you suspect that there are errors in the text of the entry caused by the digitisation). If the scanned page is displayed, an alternative citation line (for the paper dictionary) is also generated. [13]
  • The last item on the entry page is the list of possibly connected entries from the Supplement. Due to the nature of the paper dictionary, many entries of the Main volume were later updated in the Supplement. This is an easy way to review the updates. [14]

Citing the Dictionary

Individual entries may be cited using the Cite button below each entry, which allows you to chose from a number of citation formats. [12]

If you want to cite the Online Dictionary in general, you may use the following (or similar) form: 
Bosworth, Joseph. An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary Online. Ed. Thomas Northcote Toller and Others. Comp. Sean Christ and Ondřej Tichý. Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague, 21 Mar. 2010. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <>.

If you want to cite the paper dictionary, click on "show/hide this scanned page" under the respective entry, which will generate both the scanned page and the proper citation. [13]

If you want to cite the paper dictionary in general, you may use the following (or similar) form: 
Bosworth, Joseph. An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary: Based on the Manuscript Collections of the Late Joseph Bosworth. Ed. Thomas Northcote Toller. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1898.

Helping the Dictionary

Do you want to help us? Leave us a comment in the Guestbook telling us, how you use the dictionary and how would you like to see it develop. If you want to be more active in your help, you can Contact us directly and get an editor's account, which will allow you to make changes (correct errors) to the dictionary. If you have another support in mind, do not hesitate to tell us.