Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities

Middle High German Dictionary

From the world of knights, monks and minstrels

Did you know that “Elend”, the German word for misery, meant “foreign, exile” during the Middle Ages? Would you have thought that “Arbeit”, the German word for work, primarily meant “toil” and “torment” or that “arweizsuppe” (pea soup) is still served at fairs today? Those who want to delve into the world of knights and peasants or understand the songs of minstrels, the sermons of monks or the documents of bailiffs and chancery clerks should consult the Middle High German Dictionary.

Since 1994, experts of the Goettingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz have been collecting words which were in use between 1050 and 1350 and investigating their meaning. All kinds of written documents which stem from this time period serve as sources, ranging from literary classics and cookbooks to legal and medical texts.

The new “Middle High German Dictionary” will contain up to date information on about 60,000 words. It intends to bridge the gap between the Old High German and the New High German Dictionary and will, for the first time after more than 100 years, offer a reliable tool for understanding German texts of the High Middle Ages. The dictionary will be published in five volumes, but will also be available online. (http://www.mhdwb-online.de/).