Which Latin Dictionary is Best for You?

Need a quick Latin dictionary online?  Or are you ready to pay hundreds of dollars for thick, scholarly volumes?

Whether you are just starting out with your Latin studies or you are about finish a graduate program or start your teaching career, you will need the right dictionary at your finger tips.

Our guidelines below will help you make the right choice.

A Free Dictionary Online

My go-to free Latin dictionary - the one I send my students to first - is Whitaker's Words.  Book mark it.  It's from the University of Notre Dame*, so it's trustworthy, and it meets the needs of nearly all students in middle school or high school.  

Pros: A student can search English-to-Latin or Latin-to-English.  Also, it recognizes all forms of a word, so if you type in amo, amat, amare or amaverunt, it will recognize the word.  

Cons: Because it gives every possible source word for a given form, it can be confusing for students.  For example, if your type in ducis, it may mean either you are leading (from duco, ducere) or of the leader (from dux, ducis).

*For Latin language, Notre Dame is top notch. For football, however, I recommend the Oregon Ducks.

Affordability and Ease of Use

The Bantam New College Latin & English Dictionary (English and Latin Edition) - You can pick this up usually for under six dollars or so. It's small, light weight, and has all the words any student in high school or college is likely to need. Search English-Latin. Recommended for its small size, ease of use, and price, this one is best for travel. John C. Traupman is famous for these simple Latin dictionaries.

Cassell's Standard Latin Dictionary, Thumb-indexed - This is a significant step up from the Bantam, with more precise and reliable definitions. Measuring 6" by 9", and weighing 2 pounds, it is larger and heavier. And it will cost about three times the price. If you catch a sale, this is recommended for the student's desk.

Best Latin Dictionary for Your Kindle

Latin English Lexicon by Thomas McCarthy. I set this one as the default dictionary on my Kindle. It is an extensive lexicon with macrons and it will recognize the inflected forms of a word. Excellent for reading Latin on your Kindle.

By the way, there is no better way to read Latin classics on the cheap than on Kindle or its related apps. Latin texts range from FREE to a buck or two for the best Roman authors. Get your free app here:

Getting Serious About Latin?

A Latin Dictionary Founded on Andrews' Edition of Freund's Latin Dictionary — The enduring and comprehensive Lewis and Short. The best dictionary for serious readers of Latin from the classical to medieval periods. My only complaint about this one is that as I get older I have trouble with the small print. Unless you are reading obscure texts, this dictionary will meet all your needs. And it is essential for later and medieval Latin.

Luckily for the more frugal, this is available online for free. When I'm not at home, I use this version at the Perseus Project from Tufts University.

For Graduates and Scholars

Oxford Latin Dictionary — I received this as a gift from my parents when I earned a master's degree in classics. I use it all the time as it is easy to read, offers comprehensive examples of usage in context, and contains every word of classical Latin. If you're going for an advanced degree in classics, start hinting at your wealthier loved ones. It's worth it. I used to get lost in this one for long periods of time as each definition leads to new words to learn.

Modern Latin

For learning modern Latin for conversation, David Morgan's Latin lexicon is fun and very thorough. He touched the lives of many in the spoken Latin community. Read about him here, in a eulogy delivered in 2013.

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