Middle English Dictionary (MED)

quod.lib.umich.edu/m/med (can be accessed from anywhere)

Here's a basic introduction from Dr. Nicole Guenther Discenza from the University of South Florida on the MED:


Note that this search interface isn't "smart" (in the sense of a Google search that "fixes" typos for you) -- it only searches strings of characters. For that reason, you need to be patient, always use the "headword and forms" option the first time you look for a word, and always truncate with the boolean asterisk. Here's your best-bet order of operations:

  • Click "lookups"
  • If you know the precise dictionary form of your word, search "headword"; otherwise, change the pulldown to "headword and forms"
  • For best results, I recommend truncating your search term with the boolean operator  * (for example, search "shour*" rather than "shoures") -- you will probably get a list of hits from which you can choose the options that look most promising, but that is preferable to the frustration of the "no matches found" screen.
  • Because Middle English spelling was not standardized, be patient and possibly try different forms of your word. Especially substitute i/y, s/c, c/k.
  • If you strike out entirely, try the OED.
  • You might want to watch another of Dr. Discenza's videos on making the MED jump through its hoops:


Update Fall 2018!

There is a new and improved version of the MED available: https://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/middle-english-dictionary/. It's currently in Beta, but it promises to be more user-friendly than the old MED.

Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

www.oed.com (access from on campus; from off campus, go through the UGA library website > Articles & Databases > Databases By Name: O > Oxford English Dictionary. You will need the semester's password for Galileo @UGA)

  • Best if you know the modern equivalent and want to identify different valences or how the meaning has changed over time.
  • The search function is flexible enough that you can often -- but not always -- type the Middle English word into the search field and retrieve useful hits.
  • On occasion, the OED will provide definitions for words that are not in the MED.

Dictionary of the Scots Language

www.dsl.ac.uk/ (access from anywhere)

  •  Like having the OED and the MED unified into a single online dictionary, for the Scots language.
  •  I recommend that you read the opening page on how to use the search functions.
  •  For any text I assign, you will be most interested in the DOST (Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue) definition, although do pay attention to modern meanings as well.