Middle English Dictionary

Middle English Dictionary image

A comprehensive dictionary of Middle English lexicon and usage.


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The print version of the Middle English Dictionary was completed in 2001. Its 15,000 pages offer a comprehensive analysis of lexicon and usage for the period 1100-1500, based on the analysis of a collection of over three million citation slips, the largest collection of this kind available. The electronic version of the Dictionary preserves all the details of the print MED, but goes far beyond this, by converting its contents into an enormous database, searchable in ways impossible within any print dictionary.

The database includes information on the origins of technical writing, popular culture, notable literary works, medicine, law, science, ship-building, encyclopedias, translations of the Bible, maps, letters, wills, acts of State, recipes, philosophy, mathematics and numerous other subjects, providing a distant mirror of Medieval culture and society.

The electronic Dictionary is part of the Middle English Compendium, which has been designed to offer easy access to and interconnectivity between three major Middle English electronic resources: MED, the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse (also included in Manuscripts Online) and a HyperBibliography of Middle English prose and verse, based on the MED bibliographies.


This resource is of particular relevance to lexicographers and language scholars, but is moreover a key reference work for all scholars in medieval studies.

The Dictionary entries provide head words, variant spellings, etymology, definition, and illustrative quotations with links to the HyperBibliography. There are three types of search: Lookups (look up a head word or variant form); search MED entries for words, phrases, etc, in specific sections of entries; and search the MED quotations. Detailed help on searches is provided.

Special Characters

The resource includes the searchable special characters thorn (þ, Þ), eth (ð, Đ) and yogh (ȝ, Ȝ).

About the project

The Middle English Compendium is a product of the University of Michigan Digital Library Production Service. The project was funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Chief Editor is Frances McSparran and the Associate Editor is Paul Schaffner. The Project Director during the grant-funded phase was John Price Wilkin.

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Source Types

  • Literary Manuscripts
  • Non-literary Manuscripts


  • Summaries or Calendars


  • language
  • lexicography


  • English


  • Free

Time Period



University of Michigan

Cite this page:

"Middle English Dictionary" Manuscripts Online (www.manuscriptsonline.org, version 1.0, 25 July 2024), https://www.manuscriptsonline.org/resources/md/