When composing Latin prose, I often regret not knowing a dictionary and grammar organized in a way that makes writing easier.

In particular, I wonder if there is (preferably in English, French, or German, but other languages would also be appreciated):

  • a thematic dictionary (i.e., putting emotions, colors, scientific terms, etc. in different sections but "to love" and "to adore" close to each other),
  • a reference grammar organized semantically (with sections like: "How to express purpose?", "How to give an order?", etc. that give all the different options depending on the intent) rather than morphologically (which is useful for readers).

I would be equally interested in answers presenting works from all periods of the history of the Latin language.

Edit. I already know (and use) Meissner's excellent "Latin Phraseology", but it is a collection of expressions rather than a dictionary and it does not contain some basic vocabulary like about animals and plants.

  • 2
    Oh, this would be really cool.
    – Adam
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 1:33
  • Also, an electronic dictionary that would allow to search by heavy and light patterns. Looking words t fit into a metre shouldn't be this hard. Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 16:00
  • @AlexanderZ. I was considering prose composition here but indeed creating such a lookup table for poetry is pretty easy
    – user10176
    Commented Oct 27, 2021 at 16:09

5 Answers 5


Over at Brepolis, there is a database of Latin dictionaries. It includes a six-page list of defining and translating dictionaries, a one-page list of mediaeval and early modern dictionaries, and what you are searching for: a six-page list of thematic dictionaries.

As for a writer’s grammar, the best option I could find, was George Adler’s A Practical Grammar of the Latin Language (Classic Reprint): With Perpetual Exercises in Speaking and Writing; For the Use of Schools, Colleges, and Private Learners, available via Bookshop.org and Amazon. I have not worked with this myself, but from its very descriptive title, it sounds like a perfect match for your needs.


One possibility is First Thousands Words in Latin. This is geared towards children, so it obviously isn't a complete dictionary, but it's organized thematically ("grocery store," "street," etc.) in a way that's pretty helpful for learning vocabulary.

I don't have access to the book now, but I believe Patrick Owens (who is working on a large neo-Latin lexicon) was involved with this translation.

The first book of this kind was probably Orbis sensualium pictus.


I don't know of any thematic dictionaries to Latin, but you might still be interested in the following:

  • The Langenscheidt Deutsch-Latein Wörterbuch.
  • Better yet, if you know Dutch, is the Standaard Woordenboek Nederlands Latijn (Antwerpen, Standaard Uitgeverij, 1999), a modernised version of the 1939 Nederlandsch-Latijnsch Lexicon by Aerts and Vangenechten. Depending on the word, its usage information can be quite detailed. For example, if you look up "vriend" (friend) you will learn that:
    • amicus is the default translation
    • a trusted friend is a familiaris
    • amator is stronger than amicus, and implies admiration
    • "I have no better friend" translates as mihi nemo est familior
    • "our friend Emil" translates as Aemilius noster
    • "to become friends with someone again" is cum aliquo in gratiam redire
    • and many more.

And if we allow textbooks as well, here's one from my to-read list.

  • 1
    Not exactly what I was looking for but still valuable, thank you!
    – user10176
    Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 15:36
  • 1
    Note: The 1910 Georges (German-Latin) is far superior to the online dictionaries from Langenscheidt and Pons. Commented Oct 28, 2021 at 18:31
  • Agreed, this one is far better than Langenscheidt. Thanks for the link. Commented Oct 30, 2021 at 22:13

In John Traupman's Conversational Latin for oral proficiency, vocabulary is arranged thematically. In the 1997 edition that I have (I believe the book was been considerably expanded in subsequent editions), chapters include 'Family,' 'House and furniture,' 'The human body,' 'Food and drink,' 'Clothing and jewelry,' 'Buying and selling,' 'The weather,' 'Animals,' 'Emotions and qualities,' 'Government,' 'War and peace,' and 'Law and criminal justice.' It's far from exhaustive in scope though.


A bit oldish but the Lateinische Phraseologie by Carl Meissner somehow meets your needs. Exists in French and Italian. You can find it here digitized: https://vivariumnovum.it/risorse-didattiche/propria-formazione/fraseologia

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