The Dictionary

The Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini (TLIO) is a historical dictionary of early italian, based on all available documentation from the first document that can be said to be Italian to the end of the fourteenth century.

Vocabulary or dictionary?

The words vocabulary and dictionary are perfectly synonymous, and interchangeable, when referring  to a work (published in print, electronic format, CD, or on the internet) that records and explains all the words of a language.
The word vocabulary may also refer to the sum of words composing a language (e.g. the vocabulary of Italian), the range of langauge of a specifc author (e.g. the vocabulary of A. Manzoni), or of a field of knowledge (e.g. the vocabulary of engineering, or of hunting), whereas “dictionary” is not used with this meaning.
The word dictionary, instead, is also used for reference works on a particular subject, such as an encyclopedic dictionary, a medical or sports dictionary, whereas “vocabulary” is not used with this meaning.

What is a historical dictionary?

A historical dictionary records and explains the words of a language as they appear in the historical documentation (printed works, manuscripts, letters, documents, laws, regulations etc.) spanning the entire history, or a particular period, of a language. It does not aim to propose a model of language, nor does it suggest what words should be used and in what way, but rather to “tell,” through the study of the documentation, what words were used, with what meaning, and in what way. Given that only recently live speech is being recorded, a historical dictionary deals primarily with the written language, although in certain texts (e.g. in letters or theatrical texts) elements of everyday communication are present.
Normally, a historical dictionary presents definitions of specific words citing under each definition a number of contextual examples of usage taken from the collected documentation; examples are ordered chronologically, starting from the earliest one. A historical dictionary is therefore the main source for knowing when a word entered the language, or when people started to use it with a specific meaning.
An example of a historical dictionary of the entire history of a language is the Oxford English Dictionary, while an example of a historical dictionary of a particular period is the Trésor de la Langue Française, which deals with the French language documented from 1789 to 1961.

What is the Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini (TLIO) (Historical Dictionary of Early Italian)?

The Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini (TLIO) is a historical dictionary of early Italian, based on all available documentation from the first document that can be said to be Italian (albeit tentatively), which is the Indovinello veronese (early ninth century), to the end of the fourteenth century (the symbolic cut-off point is 1375, that is, the year of Boccaccio’s death).
The TLIO is published online on this same site, and is regularly updated as new entries become available. As an online publication, it does not necessarily need to follow a strict alphabetical order. In fact, some entries beginning with the letter “z” (e.g. zufolo [flute]) have already been published, even though the vocabulary is only half way through to completion. As of  the beginning of 2015, the TLIO contains over 30,000 entries. At completion, the TLIO is expected to contain between 50,000 and 60,000 entries.
The TLIO is written from scratch, that is, directly studying the texts and not by referring to words, definitions and examples from existing vocabularies, except in limited cases, which, however, are always reported. In order to do so, it uses the largest textual corpus of early Italian that the OVI Institute has developed for this very purpose, and which is available to the public for free consultation on this same site.
Another original feature of the TLIO is that it addresses all linguistic varieties of early Italian, including those that are now called dialects. This corresponds to the fact that the Italian national language is itself a creation of the early sixteenth century. Although already in the fourteenth century the Florentine and Tuscan dialect generally tended to prevail over non-Tuscan varieties, a vocabulary that neglects these other language varieties (e.g. “northern” ones spoken in Lombardy or Veneto, and “southern” ones spoken in Campania or Sicily) would give an inaccurate picture of ​​the history of the Italian language.

How did the TLIO come about?

The TLIO is the first chronological section of the planned Historical Dictionary of the Italian Language.
The project was launched in 1965 by the Accademia della Crusca, with funding from the Italian National Research Council (CNR).
In 1973, it was decided that all activities would concentrate on the earliest section, thus postponing the following ones. In 1985, the branch of the Accademia della Crusca devoted to the vocabulary became the CNR Center for the Study of the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano (now the OVI Institute).
In 1995, the OVI Early Italian database finally reached an appropriate size for the compilation of the dictionary, which was inaugurated in 1996-97 and reached the first 1000 entries at the end of 1998.

Data Access to the Site

Monthly average of visitors to the TLIO site (in the last 4 years):

In 2011: 21,550 (out of a total of 1,429,413 accesses);

In 2012: 24,067 (out of a  total of 1,243,443 accesses);

In 2013: 24,556 (out of a total of 1,077,540 accesses);

In 2014: 26,024 (out of a total of 1,421,181 accesses).

Visitors have been counted only once, no matter how many times they visited the site

Access the dictionary
Consult the wordlist