Links and reviews about the variety of ancient Greek dictionaries online and in print.
Thanks to the internet there is a vast array of ancient Greek dictionaries available for the translator. This was unheard of even ten years ago. This speeds up the process of translating by a factor of at least ten times.
The following dictionaries listed are all old, and there are no copyright restrictions. Some are not English-Greek dictionaries, none are text searchable, and all are large pdf files.
Sure, Perseus’ or Logeion’s online Lidell-Scott-Jones Dictionary is the best for speed and easy access, no question. None of the other solutions come close to their speed and ability to enter a verb in whatever form, identify it, and find the root meaning.
However, there are some weaknesses of the Lidell-Scott-Jones Dictionary. The first one is that it hardly delves into the realm of ecclesiastical usage. Secondly, it is not exhaustive. Not every word can be found here.
One should always start at Perseus or Logeion and if the word does not exist in either database, the definition seems too narrow, or some other problem, then it is time to go to the other dictionaries.
There are numerous websites that house these ancient Greek dictionaries, but many of them are not easy to navigate through, nor does any one site have all the dictionaries together. It requires some effort to locate and download the files. For your convenience, they are all found here below.
Most are direct links from Google Books. Follow the instructions from Google to download. It isn’t always necessary to download the books to use them. One can do search queries within the book using Greek text online. This cannot be done if the file is downloaded. This online search query isn’t always consistent but does sometimes provide quick results.
A list of Greek dictionaries for download.
There are many more ancient Greek dictionaries available on the internet, but the ones provided here are used more frequently.
A New Greek and English Lexicon; Principally on the plan of the Greek and German Lexicon of Schneider by James Donnegan. Boston: Hilliard, Gray and Co. 1836. This is one of the best concise English dictionaries on ecclesiastical usage, but the Google original scan has many scan errors — the page numbers are mixed-up, and sometimes duplicated. I corrected many of the problems initially found and built a revised version. Since then, I have found more errors in the page sequencing which require correction, but have yet to do.
It can be accessed through this link: A New Greek and English Lexicon.
Note: the corporation that scanned these images mixed-up and duplicated some pages. If someone would like to volunteer to correct this, then ancient Greek nerds from around the world will salute you.
E.A. Sophocles’ Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods. Memorial Edition. New York: Charles Scribner and Sons. 1900. Thanks to George Valsamis at Ellopos.net for recommending this one. It is an occasional help.
Dictionnaire Grec-Française, Paris: Garnier Frères, 1865. It appears to be helpful. Unfortunately, the pdf file size is very large and takes a long time to render a page. I have tried to reduce the document size using a Photoshop automated system, but it has failed in two attempts.
Lexicon graeco-latinum manuale ex optimis libris concinnatum. E.F. Leopold, ed. Lipsiae: Caroli Tauchnitii. 1852.
Cornelius Schrevel’s, Lexicon manuale Græco-Latinum et Latino-Græcum. Petrus Steele, ed. New York: Collins and Hannay. 1825.
Θησαυρος της Ελληνικης Γλωσσης is a Greek-Latin dictionary that is over four hundred years old but has yet to be surpassed in comprehensiveness. The typesetting and the structure of the earliest editions are difficult to follow, but the editions printed in the 1800s and later make it much easier to use. The Firmon-Didot edition is linked here. One can go on Google and find earlier versions.
Almost every dictionary above owes its ancestry to Stephanus. Many simply are abbreviated, condensed, abridged, or anglicized versions based on this work.
Stephanus’ Θησαυρος της Ελληνικης Γλωσσης is a multi-volume series. Some pages are missing scans or are scanned poorly. The links are the best ones given the circumstances.
The Firmon-Didot editions range from publishing dates of approximately 1817-1842. Due to the varying dates, there may be some inconsistencies between the books. Volumes 1a to 8 are the actual dictionary volumes, while volume 9 is an index. There are volumes containing glossaries after this, but due to space limitations, these are not included.
- Stephanus Volume 1a Α — Ἀλῶρος
- Stephanus Volume 1b Ἅμα — Ἄντος
- Stephanus Volume 2 Β — Δ
- Stephanus Volume 3 Ε
- Stephanus Volume 4 Ζ — Κ
- Stephanus Volume 5 L – O The link to volume 5 here is the full work.
- Stephanus Volume 6 Π
- Stephanus Volume 7 Σ — Τ
- Stephanus Volume 8 Υ — Ω the end section has articles on grammar and orthography.
- Stephanus Volume 9 This volume contains an index only.
There is a rich history behind the Stephanus name and their contribution to Bible history. Θησαυρος της Ελληνικης Γλωσσης was spearheaded by Henri Estienne (also known as Henri Stephanus). This family’s history of publishing, collating manuscripts, and translating has had a major impact on the modern Bible. For example the current division of chapters and verses was first introduced by Henri’s father, Robert I.
Later Additions and Reviews
Some may ask about three more. Firstly, Lampe’s Patristic Lexicon by Oxford University Press has not ported a printed version into any digital format. Amazon.com has new ones listed from $304-578.00 US. The publisher has alienated a sizeable audience by its pricing and lack of digital availability. It is an OK dictionary, not as good as Stephanus’, and not worth the price. This pricing and availability may also put the book into a deep public slumber — a forgotten work that will sit quietly on a few dusty library bookshelves.
Secondly, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek (GE) is helpful. The digital version found at logos.com is quick and easy to use. It is an expanded compilation of earlier dictionaries but it is not as exhaustive as Stephanus but may rival Donnegan. The cost is not exhorbitant and therefore should be a mainstay in a Greek translator’s toolkit.
The Cambridge Greek Lexicon is a new entry that appears enticing. Until a digital version is available, there is no review. This omission is a very serious oversight by the publishers. Who wants to spend 10 minutes leafing through a book for a word when a digital search can perform this in less than a second?
The Ecclesiastical writers borrowed terms, phrases, idioms, and grammatical structure of Greek philosophy. The following dictionary is helpful in these difficult spots: Plotinus Philosophical Lexicon Thank-you to Ryan Clevenger for pointing this one out. The item is listed at the ScribD website, which is usually a paid service.
For more complete information on how to utilize the Perseus digital library, and a comprehensive listing of other resources, the following article may be of assistance: Translation Tips on the Greek Church Fathers.