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Michigan State University

French Language Dictionaries: Dictionnaires d'Autrefois (Dictionaries of Former Times)

This is a guide to French language dictionaries in the M.S.U. Libraries in all formats. Last updated 06-21-2023

Dictionnaires d'Autrefois

Dictionaries of words of former times and older editions.  These are online, on paper, on CD, or on microform. Microfilms with accession numbers have mostly moved to Remote Storage.  Be sure to check Books and Media for updated locations.

Dictionnaires d’Autrefois online via the ARTFL database

Contains Jean Nicot's Thresor de la Langue Française (1606), Jean-François Féraud's Dictionaire Critique de la Langue Française (1787-1788), Émile Littré's Dictionnaire de la Langue Française (1872-1877) and the Dictionnaire de L'Académie Française 1st (1694), 4th (1762), 5th (1798), 6th (1835), and 8th (1932-5) editions.

Several dictionaries medieval Latin to French available in Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio Mediaevalis. Lexica Latina Medii Aevi [series]:

Firmini Verris Dictionarius (by Firmin le Ver, ca 1370-1444) Oversize PA 2893 .F7 L4 1994

Duo Glossaria...Oversize 3 West BR 60 .C4556 1998

Dictionarius Familiaris et Compendiosus... (by Guillaume Le Talleur, c. 1492?) Oversize  3 West PA 2365 .F5 L37 2002

Dictionnaire Hebreu-Latin-Francais... Oversize 3 West PJ 4835 .F5 D53 2008

Dictionnaire de l’Ancienne Langue Française, et de Tous Ses Dialectes du IXe au XVe Siècle: Compose d’Apres le Depouillement de Tous les Plus Importants Documents, Manuscrits ou Imprimes, Qui se Trouvent dans les Grands Bibliotheque de la France et de l’Europe, et dans les Principales Archives Departementales, Municipales, Hospitalières ou Privées (Godefroy) Main PC 2889 .G6 10 vols

Our paper edition is 1937-38.  1881-1902 edition in Hathitrust.  Standard dictionary of old French with a wealth of illustrative quotations.  Godefroy’s Lexique de l’Ancien Français (Main PC 2889 .G7 1928 and .G63 1968) is an abridgement of the larger work, omitting the quotations, adding and deleting some words.

Dictionnaire de l’Ancien Français: Le Moyen Age Main PC 2889 .G765 1992

Designed as a desk dictionary, rather than an exhaustive reference.  Covers medieval French up to 1350, not excluding words still in use today.  Dates of first usage and dates of usage shifts over time are given.  Bibliography of sources used.

Old French-English Dictionary Main PC 2891 .H56 2000

Aimed at anglophone readers of Old French texts.  The 60,000 headwords (from texts up to ca. 1350) have brief entries.  Orthographic variants are included under the headword; some cross-references are supplied.

Nouveau Dictionnaire Historique des Locutions: Ancien Francais, Moyen Francais, Renaissance. Main PC 2689 .D5 2015 t. 1-2 Terms and phrases of the French Language to 1600.

Dictionnaire du Francais Medieval.  Main PC 2889 .M38 2015  56,202 To help understand French texts written from 842 through the end of the 15th century.

Dictionnaire Latin Francais des Auteurs du Moyen Age=Lexicon Latinitatis Medii Aevi.  Main PA 2893 .F7 B6 1975
Look up a Latin word and find a translation of it into French.  For use by medievalists.

Dictionnaire du Moyen Français: La Renaissance Main PC 2889 .G766 1992

Designed as a desk dictionary rather than for exhaustive reference, drawing from authors whose works are frequently read.  Dates of first usage and dates of usage shifts over time are given.

Dictionnaire des Locutions en Moyen Français Main PC 2889 .D5 1991

Draws from a corpus of 500 primarily 14th and 15th century texts, some unpublished.  Examples (often multiple examples in a given entry) are provided and cited precisely.

Dictionnaire de l’Academie Française

Dictionary of the Academie Française.  Current edition, 1986- is listed in the Current Works section of this guide.  We have many older editions as follows:

First edition, 1684 Murray and Hong Special Collections xx oversize PC 2625 .A3 1694 2 vols. And supp.; online in ARTFL and Gallica

First edition, 1684 DMC 4 West on CD PC 2625 A33 1998

Prefaces of 1694-1992 editions Main PC 2625 .A337 1997

5th edition Microform 2 West #15189 reel 6 no. 3 

6th edition Main PC 2625 .A3 1835 and online in Hathitrust

7th edition Main oversize 3 West PC 2625 .A3 1878

8th edition Main oversize e West PC 2625 .A3 1932 2 vols.

Altfranzöisches Wörterbuch: Adolf Toblers Nachgelassene Materialien Consulting Reference PC 2893 .T6 1925 v. 1-11

An outstanding German work, which attempts to include all words of the 12th to the 14th centuries, being particularly strong in the literary language.  Gives etymologies of each word, with examples of usage and references to other treatments.

Dictionnaire Étymologique de la Langue Français Main PC 2580 .B55 1989

Etymological dictionary of “contemporary” French, giving date of earliest appearance, derivatives, etc. We have many older editions of this in Main and Remote Storage: 1929, 1937, 1938, 1950, 1960. 

Dictionnaire General de la Langue Française du Commencement du XVIIe Siècle jusqu’a Nos Jours, Precede e’ un Traite de la Formation de la Langue Main PC 2625 .H4 and PC 2625 .H4 1926

1895-1900 and 1926 editions.  Gives etymologies, examples showing first usage, changes in meaning, etc.

Dictionnaire du Français Classique Main PC 2625 .D45

[1971] edition. A dictionary of the language of the great classical texts of the 17th century, providing definitions of words which have changed their meaning or have become obsolete; provides citations to writers of the period.

Dictionnaire des Mots Sauvages (Écrivains des XIXe et XXe Siècles) Main PC 3741 .R47

1969 edition.  Includes 6,000 words coined, obsolete terms revived, and provincialisms borrowed by French writers of the 19th and 20th centuries.  Literary context of each term is given, followed by a note on usage.

Obsolète: Dictionnaire des Mots Perdus Main PC 2667 .D83 1989

Illustrative dictionary arranged by broad subject.  Includes illustrative sentences mainly from 17th and 18th- century authors, although these examples are not dated.  Lacks index.

Franzöisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch: Eine Darstellung des Galloromanischen Sprachschatzes Consulting Reference PC 2580 .W3

1928-2001 edition.  The great German dictionary of French etymology, giving the historical development of the meanings of the words with dates.  Includes dialectal forms.  1950 edition plus map 1 and 2 and 1957 Supplement in Main, same call number.

Trésor de la Langue Française: Dictionnaire de la Langue du XIXe et du XXe Siècle (1789-1960)  Reference 1 Center PC 2625 .I4 v. 1-16

1971-. Originally intended to be a comprehensive historical dictionary, a “French O.E.D” for the 19th and 20th centuries, that would eventually include all earlier periods.  However, it is complete for the 1789-1960 period now.  Texts used for the quotations illustrating word usages are those presented in the ARTFL database of full texts to which M.S.U. Libraries subscribes.

Dictionnaire de la Langue Française (Littré) Main PC 2625 .L63 t. 1-7

Published 1956-58. Reprint of the famous Littré published 1873-78 in modern format including the words from the supplement to the original edition.  Older but still important for the history, etymology, and grammar of the French language.  Includes many quotations from literature, with exact references to sources.  Older editions in Main, same call number and Oversize at PC 2625 .L63 1873 t. 1-4.  Also available through ARTFL.

Dictionnaire Historique des Argots Français Remote Storage PC 3741 .E8

[1965]. More substantial than many French slang dictionaries.  Indicates etymologies in most instances, and cites examples of early usage.  Most valuable as an historic source, given the publication date.

Français Classique: Lexique de la Langue du Dix-Septième Siècle Expliquant d’Apres les Dictionnaires du Temps et les Remarques des Grammairiens le Sens et l’Usage des Mots Aujourd’hui Vieillis ou Differement Employes  Remote Storage PC 2625 .C3

[c. 1948]. Dictionary of 17th-century French, with many quotations from the literature and exact references to sources.

Petit Dictionnaire de l’Ancien Français Main PC 2889 .V3

[1940]. Compact, convenient dictionary of Old French, but no substitute for Godefroy’s…, which is 10 volumes; see above: Dictionnaire de l'Ancienne Langue Française.

Dictionnaire François-Latin (Estienne) Murray and Hong Special Collections PC 2620 f.D5 1704 3 vols

Originally published 1549.  Also available online in Gallica

Thresor de la Langue Francoyse, Tant Ancienne que Moderne (Nicot) 1606 online in ARTFL

Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues (Cotgrave) online in EEBO

Dictionnaire Francois  (Richelet) Main PC 2064 .R5 P47 2009

Reprint of 1679/80.  Also in Gallica

Essais d’un Dictionnaire Universel (Furetière) Main PC 2620 .F72 1968

Reprint of 1687

Dictionnaire Universel (Furetière)  Reference 1 Center PC 2620 .F7 1970

Reprint of 1690.  In Gallica

Dictionnaire des Arts et des Sciences (Corneille) Murray and Hong Special Collections XX oversize PC2625 .A3 1694 and Suppl.