i. Persian dictionaries.

ii. Arabic-Persiandictionaries.

iii. Bi/Multiligual dictionaries.

iv. Specialized dictionaries.

v. Slang dictionaries.



The history of Persian lexicography can be divided roughly into: 1. early lexicography in Persia; 2. lexicography in India; 3. lexicography in the Ottoman empire; and 4. modern lexicography in Persia. Dictionaries treated in separate articles will not be discussed here.

Early lexicography in Persia (4th-9th/10th-15th cent.). The first Persian dictionary about which some information has come to us is the one compiled by the 5th/11th-century poet Qaṭrān Tabrīzī (but see Ebn al-Nadīm, ed. Flügel, p. 143 on Abu’l-Qāsem Jarrāḥ) which, according to Lōḡat-e fors (Dabīrsīāqī, p. 14), was mostly comprised of popular words. According to Moḥammad Naḵjavānī (intro.p. 8), it had only 300 entries. It is called Montaḵab by Qara-Ḥeṣārī (Dabīrsīāqī, p. 14). This dictionary was one of the sources of Sorūrī Kāšānī’s Farhang-e Sorūrī and of Enjū Šīrāzī’s Farhang-e jahāngīrī. Nothing is known about the Resāla or Farhang of Abū Ḥafṣ Soḡdī (not to be confused with his namesake, q.v., reported as one of the early Persian poets) mentioned by Sorūrī and Enjū Šīrāzī, which must have been compiled no earlier than the late 11th century as it is not mentioned by Asadī (d. 465/1072) and Naḵjavānī (d. ca. 768/1366).

The first extant Persian dictionary is Lōḡat-e fors of the poet Asadī Ṭūsī (q.v.). Entries are arranged according to their final letters and illustrated by examples from poetry. Over ten manuscripts are known to have reached us (see ed., Mojtabāʾī and Ṣādeqī, pp. 4-16), all of which differ in the number of entries and verses as well as the entry definitions. The author’s original copy seems to be represented by the abridged manuscript used by ʿAbbās Eqbāl as the basis of his edition (Tehran, 1319 Š./1940). A version compiled by one of Asadī’s students was discovered two decades ago in the Punjab library (ed., Mojtabāʾī and Ṣādeqī). According to its introduction, Asadī had distributed parts of the dictionary without giving anyone a complete version. Later this student collected them, arranged the dictionary, and added supporting verses to illustrate the definitions. This seems to suggest that the dictionary was actually a number of word-lists that Asadī gave his students to complete and to provide with examples found in poetry, which may also explain differences in the title, text, and prefaces found in various manuscripts.

Entries are either defined by their synonyms or explained. Some geographical names, as well as some corrupt words, are also listed in the book. It was used by nearly all subsequent Persian lexicographers, and for some of them it served also as a model (see below).

The second dictionary compiled in Persia is Moḥammad Naḵjavānī’s Ṣehāḥ al-fors (2,300 entries, comp. 728/1328), which depends on Asadī’s dictionary but is arranged on the model of the Arabic Ṣeḥāḥ al-loḡa byJawharī Fārābī (Dehḵodā, intro., p. 187). Entries are arranged first according to their final letters, in chapters called bāb, then their initial letters, in sections named faṣl. Proficient in both Arabic and Persian, Naḵjavānī was more cautious than subsequent lexicographers in choosing his entries. Corrupt words (e.g., rāzījaz, kāmvažīž, vāzanj for razījar, kāmvarīž, vāzīj) are rare, and some verses are attributed to the wrong poet (e.g., ʿOnṣorī’s distich to Kesāʾī, s.v. kūdara). Some proper nouns are also listed (e.g., Ās, Aras). It was used by Enjū Šīrāzī, Sorūrī, and Wafāʾī.

Next is Majmūʿat al-fors by Abu’l-ʿAlāʾ ʿAbd-al-Moʾmen Jārūtī, known as Ṣafī Kaḥḥāl, about whom almost nothing is known. It is mainly based on Asadī’s work but also contains words from the Šāh-nāma as well as distichs by Sanāʾī, Sūzanī, Anwarī, Ḵāqānī, and Saʿdī. Since the latest poet mentioned is Saʿdī (d. ca. 690/1291), the book was probably compiled in the late 13th or early 14th century (Nafīsī’s suggestion of 9th/15th century, Naẓm o naṯr, p. 258, is untenable). It contains 1,542 entries including corrupt forms (e.g., najm, karzīān, laḡn for bečam, korozmān, naḡn). Many definitions are without example.

Meʿyār-e jamālī (comp. 744-45/1343-44) by Šams-e Faḵrī Eṣfahānī is a dictionary of 1,580 entries, including corrupt forms, arranged on the model of Lōḡat-e fors; all supporting verses are composed by the author. It was used by Wafāʾī, Enjū Šīrāzī, Sorūrī, ʿAbd-al-Rašīd Tatavī, and Awbahī.

Persian Lexicography in India. The influence of the Persian language and literature in India and the need for Persian manuals and dictionaries led Indian men of letters to compile dictionaries as early as the end of the 13th century. The first extant dictionary compiled in India is Farhang-e Qawwās by Faḵr-al-Dīn Mobārakšāh Qawwās, a poet at the court of ʿAlāʾ-al-Dīn Ḵaljī (695-715/1295-1316), who was still living in the time of the compilation of Dastūr al-afāżel (743/1342, q.v.; Dabīrsīāqī, p. 32). This dictionary, arranged thematically, is divided into five chapters (baḵš); each chapter is divided into sections (gūna) comprised of a number of sub-sections (bahra). It set the example for later dictionaries compiled in India and further influenced many of them. Textual evidence (e.g., use of the same examples, repetition of certain errors) shows that Qawwās used Lōḡat-e fors as a major source, although he also quotes verses by poets, both Persian and Indian, who lived after Asadī’s time.

Baḥr al-fażāʾel by Moḥammad b. Qewām Balḵī Keraʾī (comp. 837/1433) is a dictionary divided in two parts which are further divided into twenty-eight and fourteen chapters (bāb), respectively. Entries are arranged according to their initial letters in the first part and thematically (names of cities, drugs, nicknames, etc.) in the second part, which is comprised of thirty-six sections (faṣl). The author states in his introduction that he used as his source the works of poets (e.g., Rūdakī, ʿOnsorī, Neẓāmī, Saʿdī) and the earlier dictionaries Moqaddemat al-adab of Maḥmūd Zamaḵšarī, al-Sāmī fi’l-asāmī of Abu’l-Fażl Maydānī, Seḥāḥ al-fors of Naḵjavānī, etc.

Šaraf-nāma-ye Monyarī/Ebrāhīmī (comp. 878/1473) by Ebrāhīm Qewām Fārūqī is divided into thirty-one chapters (bāb) according to the initial letters of the entrees, and then every bāb is divided into sections (faṣl)according to the final letters; the rest of the arrangement is alphabetical. The book is dedicated to and named after the author’s spiritual mentor Šaraf-al-Dīn Aḥmad Monyarī. In his introduction, the author explains a few grammatical points as well as some Turkish suffixes. The work contains about 11,000 entries illustrated by poems from Ferdowsī to Ḥāfeẓ. The author mentions as his sources Asadī’s dictionary, Adāt al-fożalāʾ of Badr-al-Dīn Dhārvā, Farhang-e zafān-e gūyā of Badr-al-Dīn Ebrāhīm (qq.v.), the annonymous Lesān al-šoʿarāʾ, Mawāʾed al-fawāʾed, etc. At the end of the 10th/16th century, Mīrzā Ebrāhīm b. Šāh-Ḥosayn Eṣfahānī abridged this dictionary and renamed it Farhang-e Mīrzā Ebrāhīm. Šaraf-nāma is the source of many later dictionaries (e.g., Madār al-afāżel, Farhang-e jahāngīrī, Majmaʿ al-fors, Farhang-e rašīdī; see Dabīrān).

Moʾayyed al-fożalāʾ (comp. 925/1519) by Moḥammad Lād Dehlavī is arranged first according to the initial and then the final letters of the words. Every letter of the alphabet is divided into three chapters devoted to Arabic loanwords, Persian words, and Turkish elements respectively. The author’s main sources were Šaraf-nāma and the annonymous Qonyat al-ṭālebīn, but he also mentions Ṣorāḥ, Tāj, Lesān al-šoʿarāʾ, Adāt al-fożalāʾ, Dastūr al-afāżel (q.v.), Zafān-e gūyā, etc. (Dabīrsīāqī, pp. 72-74).

Madār al-afāżel of Allāhdād Fayżī Serhendī (comp. 1001/1592) is a detailed dictionary comprising 12,000 entries arranged according to the first and then final letters. The author mentions as his sources Tājayn, (i.e.,Tāj al-maṣāder of Bayhaqī and Tāj al-lōḡa of Jawharī or the annonymous Tāj al-asmāʾ), Ṣorāhá, Mohaḏḏab al-asmāʾ, Qonyat al fetyān for Arabic and on Zafān-egūyā, Adāt al-fożalāʾ, Šaraf-nāma-ye Monyarī, Moʾayyed al-fożalāʾ, etc. for Persian words. Some definitions are provided with supporting verses (Dabīrsīāqī, pp. 101-02).

Farhang-e rašīdī by ʿAbd-al-Rašīd Tatavī (q.v.; comp. 1064/1653), a dictionary of 8-9,000 entries in alphabetical order, is an abridgement of Farhang-e jahāngīrī and Farhang-e Sorūrī, correcting some of their errors and omitting the corrupt forms as well as Arabic and Turkish words found in them. Mistakes and corrupt forms recorded in Farhang-e rašīdī are mentioned by ʿAlī Khan Ārzū (q.v.) in his Serāj al-loḡāt.

Bahār-e ʿAjam is a dictionary of about 10,000 entries, including a considerable number of idioms and expressions, in alphabetical order, compiled in 1152/1739 by Tīk Čand Bahār. In his introduction the author mentions as his source about 100 dīvāns and correspondence collections of the Persian and Indian poets of the Safavid period.

The anonymous Šams al-loḡāt, compiled by the order of Joseph Barretto in 1219/1805, contains simple words, idioms, expressions, and proverbs in alphabetical order. Examples are at times provided for illustration. The author names in his introduction the earlier 384

dictionaries (e.g., Madār al-afāżel, Farhang-e rašīdī, Farhang-e jahānḡīrī) he based his work on; a few more are quoted in the text. It also contains a number of corrupt forms.

Haft qolzom is an extensive dictionary of 27,709 entries compiled by Abu’l-Moẓaffar Ḡāzī-al-Dīn Ḥaydar, the king of Awadh, in 1229-30/1813-14 and arranged and edited by Mawlawī Qabūl Moḥammad in seven volumes (qolzom). The first six volumes are devoted to Persian words and idioms, arranged according to their first and final letters respectively. The last volume discusses Persian alphabet, morphology, prosody, rhyme, figures of speech, etc. The Persian material is taken mainly from Borhān-e qāteʿ (q.v.). No examples support entry definitions. Like its source, it contains a number of corrupt words.

Ḡīāṯ al-loḡāt by Moḥammad Rāmpūrī (comp. 1242/1826) contains approximately 15,000 Persian, Arabic, and Turkish entries arranged alphabetically according to the two initial letters. Determinative and attributive compounds are also recorded, but without mentioning their figurative or metaphorical application. Sources are mentioned for many entries, but no examples are cited.

Before turning to the Ottoman Empire and its contribution to Persian lexicography, we must mention a few dictionaries written in Persia during the period we considered as the Indian period of Persian lexicography. They depend on the same tradition and use earlier dictionaries produced in both Persia and India:

Farhang-e Wafāʾī or Resāla-ye Ḥosayn Wafāʾī (comp. 933/1526) by Ḥosayn Wafāʾī is based mainly on Ṣehāḥ al-fors. The author has also used Meʿyār-e jamālī, the dictionary of Šams-al-Dīn Moḥammad Kašmīrī and some other sources for a limited number of entries. Another dictionary written in the same period is Toḥfat al-aḥbāb, compiled in 936/1529 by the calligrapher Solṭān-ʿAlī Awbahī for Saʿd-al-Dīn Mašhadī, the vizier of Khorasan. It comprises 2,483 entries arranged according to their first and last letters respectively. The entries are almost the same as those recorded by Asadī, plus a number of corrupt forms. The examples are also the same as those quoted by Asadī, besides some verses by later poets (Anwarī, Sūzanī, Sanāʾī, Kamāl-al-Dīn Esmāʿīl, Moʿezzī, etc.). No source is cited by the author (Dabīrsīāqī, pp. 74-78).

A more scholarly and better documented dictionary written a few decades later is Majmaʿ al-fors by Sorūrī Kāšānī. Two versions of this dictionary exist. The old version (comp. 1008/1599) is shorter and has an introduction in which Shah ʿAbbās I (q.v.) is praised. The new version is more extensive and seems to have been compiled (1028/1618) after the author had access to Farhang-e jahāngīrī, Šāmel al-loḡa of Qara-Ḥeṣārī, and Toḥfat al-saʿāda of Maḥmūd b. Żµµīāʾ-al-Dīn Moḥammad. In addition to 10,043 Persian entries, it contains a chapter on metaphorical expressions, the size of which is nearly one-sixth of an identical chapter in Farhang-e jahāngīrī. In his introduction, the author mentions as his sources nineteen dictionaries, but thirty-four more dictionaries, some Arabic, are quoted in the text. The author’s critical assessment of earlier dictionaries and his careful choice of examples from reliable texts make his work very valuable, even more so than Farhang-e jahāngīrī (Dabīrsīāqī, pp. 124-32).

Persian lexicography in the Ottoman empire. Persian lexicography in the Ottoman empire apparently began in the 9th/15th century. Unlike those compiled in India, almost all dictionaries produced in the Ottoman empire are bilingual (Persian-Turkish). The earliest extant dictionary is the anonymous Oqnūm-e ʿAjam, containing about 5,000 entries arranged alphabetically according to the initial and final letters. It was used by the author of Farhang-e Neʿmat-Allāh (d. 969/1561-62). A manuscript preserved in Bodleian was copied in 898/1492 (Dabīrsīāqī, pp. 261-62).

Loṭf-Allāh b.Yūsof Ḥalīmī is the author of three bilingual dictionaries, namely Baḥr al-ḡārāʾeb, ŠarḥBaḥr al-ḡārāʾeb or Qāʾema, and Neṯār al-malek/molūk, compiled in the Ottomon empire in the 9th/15th century. Qāʾema is an expanded version of Baḥr al-ḡārāʾeb andcontains about 5,500 Persian entries defined with examples chosen from poetry. Neṯār al-malek was compiled after Qāʾema in 872/1467. It was apparently a source of Majmaʿ al-fors (Dabīrsīāqī, pp. 262-66).

Šāmel al-loḡa of Ḥasan Qara-Ḥeṣārī, compiled around 900/1495 and dedicated to Sultan Bāyazīd (r. 887-918/1482-1512), is based on Ṣeḥāḥ al-fors, Meʿyār-e jamālī, Qaṭrān’s dictionary (which he called Montaḵab), and Qāʾema. It was one of the sources of Majmaʿ al-fors. Other noteworthy Persian-Turkish dictionaries are Wasīlat-al maqāṣed by Ḵaṭīb Rostam Mawlawī (comp. 903/1497); Toḥfa-ye Šāhedī, a short dictionary in verse composed in 920/1514 by Ebrāhīm b. Ḵodāydede Šāhedī Qūnawī (d. 957/1550); and Ṣeḥāḥ-e ʿajamīya or seḥāh al-ʿAjam by Moḥammad b. Pīr-ʿAlī Bergavī (d. 981/1573). The last dictionary was originally a Persian-Arabic lexicon with interlinear Turkish translation; in some manuscripts the Arabic equivalents are omitted. Two reductions exist in manuscript (Dabīrsīāqī, pp. 268-80).

Loḡat-e Neʿmat-Allāh (comp. before 947/1540)by Neʿmat-Allāh Aḥmad Rowšanīzāda (d. 969/1561) contains 8-10,000 entries with examples in verse. It has the same arrangement as Oqnūm-e ʿAjam and is based on Qāʾema, Wasīlat al-maqāṣed, Šāmel al-loḡa, and the two versions of Ṣeḥāḥ-e ajamīya (ibid., pp. 280-82). Lastly, we should mention Lesān al-ʿAjam (also called Nawāl al-fożalāʾ), a dictionary of nearly 18,000 entries compiled by Ḥasan Šoʿūrī Ḥalabī (d. 1105/1693). It is based in the first place on Farhang-e jahāngīrī and Majmaʿ al-fors, then on Šaraf-nāma, Ṣeḥāḥ al-fors, Ṣeḥāḥ-e ʿAjam-e kabīr and Ṣeḥāḥ-e ʿAjam-e ṣaḡīr of Faḵr-al-Dīn Hendūšāh Naḵjavānī, Meʿyār-e jamālī, jāmeʿ al-loḡāt of Nīāzī Ḥejāzī, anonymous Šarḥ-e al-sāmī fi’l-asāmī, and earlier Persian-Turkish dictionaries (Dabīrsīāqī, pp. 284-90).

Persian lexicography after 1300 Š./1921. Persian lexicography in this period is influenced to some degree by western methodology, although traditional methods are still predominant in most of dictionaries. The most important dictionaries written in this period are Farhang-e Nafīsī byAlī-Akbar Nafīsī Nāẓam-al-Aṭṭebāʾ (5 vols., Tehran, 1938-55), Far-hang-e Neẓām, by Moḥammad-ʿAlī Dāʿī-al-Eslām (5 vols., Hyderabad, 1346-58/1926-39, repr. Tehran, 1985), Loḡat-nāma by Dehḵodā, Farhang-e farsī by Moḥammad Moʿīn (6 vols., Tehran, 1963-73), and Lōḡat-nāma-ye fārsī by a number of scholars (Tehran, 1961- Š./1982-; qq.v.).



(For cited works not given in detail, see “Short References.”)S. I. Bayevski, Ranniyaya persidskaya leksikografiya (XI-XC vv.), Moscow, 1989.

Borhān-e qāteʿ, ed. M. Moʿīn, I, pp. LIX-CXVI. H.ṟ Dabīrān, “Šaraf-nāma-ye Monyarī,” Pažūheš-nāma-ye Farhangestān-e zabān-e Īrān 2, 1356 Š./1977, pp. 97-122.

M. Dabīrsīāqī, Farhanghā-ye fārsī, Tehran, 1368 Š./1989.

M.-ʿA. Dāʿī-al-Eslām, Farhang-nevīsī-e fārsī, Hyderabad, 1347/1928.

Dehḵodā, Intro., pp. 178 ff.

ʿA. Joveynī, “Negāh-ī ba farhang-nāmahā-ye fārsī,” Zabān o adabīyāt-e fārsī 1, 1360 Š./1981, pp. 75-84.

P. de Lagarde, Persische Studien, Göttingen, 1884. D. N. MacKenzie, “Ḳāmūs ii. Persian Lexicography,” in EI2 IV, pp. 525-27.

Monzawī, Nosḵahā III, pp. 1919-2046.

S. Nafīsī, “Farhanghā-ye fārsī,” in Borhān-e qāṭeʿ, ed. M. Moʿīn, I, Tehran, 1330 Š./1951, pp. LXIV-LXXVII.

Moḥammad b. Hendūšāh Naḵjavānī, Ṣeḥāḥ al-fors, ed. ʿA.-ʿA. Ṭāʿatī, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962.

Š. Naqawī, Farhang-nevīsī dar Hend o Pākestān, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962.

Faḵr-al-Dīn Mobārakšāh Qawwās Ḡaznavī, Farhang-e qawwās, ed. Naḏīr Aḥmad, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974.

Ḡīāṯ-al-Dīn Moḥammad Rāmpūrī, Ḡīāṯ al-loḡāt, ed. M. Dabīrsīāqī, 2 vols., Tehran, 1337 Š./1958.

Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., pp. 429-37.

Šams-e Faḵrī Eṣfahānī, Meʿyār-e jamālī, ed. Ṣ. Kīā, Tehran, 1337 Š./1958.

Moḥammad-Qāsem Sorūrī Kāšānī, Majmaʿ al-fors, ed. M. Dabīrsīāqī, 3 vols., Tehran, 1337-41 Š./1958-62.

Storey, III/1, pp. 1ff.




From the outset of the Islamic period Persian scholars played an active role in Arabic lexicography. Moḥammad Fīrūzābādī’s monolingual dictionary, Qāmūs, gave its name as the generic term for a dictionary in Arabic. Bilingual lexicography began during the 11th century soon after Arabic-Persian translation literature and, indeed, New Persian literature in general in Khorasan and Transoxiana. At least sixty bilingual prose dictionaries, and some thirty more in verse (including commentaries on these) were produced in Persia, India, and Turkey up to the later 19th century. They may be classified into five broad types: 1. topical vocabularies, limited to and/or arranged in accordance with particular subjects or a defined corpus, including Koranic and professional glossaries; 2. dictionaries of Arabic action nouns (maṣāder-type); 3. dictionaries of Arabic nouns, including adjectives and, sometimes, particles (asāmī-type); 4. universal dictionaries, not limited to particular topics or parts of speech and arranged in alphabetical or rhyme order; and 5. pedagogical vocabularies in verse (neṣāb-type). Most classical dictionaries are internally classified, whether according to topic, morphology, or alphabetical order (by initial then subsequent letters, or by final then other letters, i.e., rhyme order); the hierarchy of categories is generally qesm/ketāb, bāb, faṣl. Titles, which are often fanciful rhyming or punning phrases or chronograms, do not usually bear translation.

1. Topical. The earliest bilingual dictionary attested is al-Bolḡa al-motarjem fi’l-lōḡa (comp. 438/1046-47) by Adīb Kordī Nīšāpūrī (Monzawī, p. 265; ed. M. Mīnovī and F. Ḥarīrčī, Tehran, 1976). It is divided into forty bābs listing Arabic words and phrases and Persian glosses under headings such as the names of God, parts of the body, animals, plants, etc. The historian Abu’l-Fażl Bayhaqī (d. 470/1077, q.v.) is reputed to have compiled a Persian-Arabic vocabulary (ed. Ḥekmat, pp. 384-98) comprising a secretary’s list of 370 useful Arabic words and phrases in no special order (Monzawī, p. 267). Al-Merqāt, also known as al-Ṣaḥāʾef (ed. J. Sajjādī, Tehran, 1967), is a Persian-Arabic glossary for beginners in twelve chapters, listing body parts, ailments and medicines, foods and drinks, etc. It is attributed to the poet Adīb Naṭanzī (d. 497/1103, q.v.; Monzawī, p. 272; Storey, pp. 6, 81).

Qāżī Abū ʿAbd-Allāh Ḥosayn Zawzanī (d. 486/1093) produced the first Koran glossary, Tarjomān-e Qorʾān (Monzawī, pp. 269-70). The following century saw at least two more, the Tarājem al-aʿlām of Abu’l-Maʿālī Aḥmad Ḡaznavī, following the suras in reverse order, and an anonymous imitation of this (Monzawī, p. 284). Two more were produced under the Saljuqs of Anatolia (Rūm) in the latter half of the 12th century by the prolific lexicographer Ḥobayš Teflīsī, the alphabetically-ordered Jawāmeʿ al-bayān and the Wojūh al-Qorʾān (558/1263), which treated only polysemous words. Post-Mongol examples include the anonymous Mostaḵleṣ (711/1311-12), arranged in order of suras and with the addition of grammatical notes; the Tarjomān-e Qorʾān attributed to Mīr Sayyed Šarīf Jorjānī (d. 816/1413), extending from suras Māʾeda to Nās; and an alphabetical recension of this by Ādel b. ʿAlī (Monzawī, pp. 318-20).

Teflīsī also compiled the [bayān/lōḡāt/tarjomān al-] Qawāfī, a dictionary of Arabic rhyming words (Monzawī, pp. 290-91; Storey, p. 88). In Khorasan Moḥammad Ṭabīb Heravī compiled in 924/1518 a dictionary of Arabic medical terms (perforce including many Greek, Syriac, and Latin loanwords), the Jawāher al-lōḡa, which he revised and reissued in 938/1532 as Baḥr al-jawāher (Tehran, 1288/1871; Monzawī, p. 325). A traditional technical glossary in semi-modern guise can be seen in the Ketāb kaššāf eṣṭelāḥāt al-fonūn of Moḥammad Tahānavī (fl. ca. 1745), edited by ʿAbd-al-Ḥaqq et al with an English title page and appendix at Calcutta in 1862 (2 vols.; offset repr. Tehran, 1967). This dictionary defines, in Persian, Arabic and other terms used in the Islamic sciences.

2. Maṣāder-type. The nonsegmental nature of Arabic morphology presents peculiar problems to lexicographers. Early Arabic topical dictionaries appended after their lists of nouns lists of infinitives (maṣāder), and this convention evolved into two distinct genres: dictionaries of nouns (asmāʾ) and of verbs (maṣāder).This practice was continued into the early centuries of Arabic-Persian lexicography and considerably elaborated. The first of the latter type, Ketābal-maṣāder of Zawzanī (ed. T. Bīneš, 2 vols., Mašhad, 1961-66), presupposes a solid knowledge of Arabic, being arranged in order of morphological complexity of the infinitives and the characteristic vowels of conjugated forms (Monzawī, p. 268; Storey, pp. 80-81). The Tāj al-maṣāder of Abū Jaʿfar Bayhaqī (d. 544/1150; ed. ʿA. Jovaynī, Tehran, 1983) follows essentially the same arrangement, but in strict alphabetical order within the morphological sections; it is, in fact, an unacknowledged expansion of Zawzanī’s work from 5,000 to 10,000 entries (Monzawī, pp. 279-80; Storey, pp. 84-85). Both works, but especially the latter, gained immediate popularity; since Bū Jaʿfarak never left home except to visit the mosque, scholars flocked to his house to hear and memorize his dictionary. A 15th-century Ketāb al-maṣāder composed in Sīstān by Abū Bakr Bostī shows interesting dialect variants in the glosses, e.g., al-ʿaks: bāškūna kardan (cf. Persian vāžgūn). The principal utility of this type of dictionary lay in the fact that the same Arabic verb can have two or more infinitives. From the perspective of modern scholarship, they illustrate the important process of incorporation of Arabic verbal nouns into Persian by means of auxiliary verbs.

3. Asāmī-type. The first of this genre, al-Sāmī fi’l-asāmī, compiled in 497/1104 by Abu’l-Fażl Aḥmad Maydānī Nīšābūrī (d. 518/1124; facs. ed. Tehran, 1966; ed. M. M. Hendawī, Cairo, 1967; note that vol. 2 of Tehran edition was published in 1975), was topically classified into four parts (qesm): religion, animals, the celestial, and the terrestrial, and it was further subdivided by bāb and faṣl (Monzawī, pp. 273-74; Storey, pp. 81-82). It was followed by al-asmāʾ fi’l-asāmī (Monzawī, p. 275), an expansion of the work by Maydānī’s son Abū Saʿd Saʿīd (d. ca. 539/1144); where the father’s book had an introduction in Arabic, the son’s had one in Persian. Two famous and similarly-titled works were composed in the 13th century. The Mohaḏḏeb al-asmāʾ of Qāżī Maḥmūd b. ʿOmar Zanjī (Rabenjanī?) Sanjarī (Sejzī?; ed. M.-Ḥ Moṣṭafawī, Tehran, 1985), an Arab by descent and resident near Samarqand, includes phrases, adjectives, and particles, ordered alphabetically (ketāb) and by initial vowel (bāb), and glossed succinctly in Persian without supporting citations. It makes systematic use of abbreviations which later became standard, such as mīm (maʿrūf “known”) to designate a noun so common as not to require definition, and jīm (jamʿ “plural”). The anonymous Tahḏīb al-asmāʾ, also called Tāj al-asāmī (ed. ʿA.-ʿA. Ebrāhīmī, Tehran, 1988), is similarly arranged but confined strictly to nouns (Monzawī, pp. 301-03; Storey, pp. 92, 109). The former inspired the Moṣarreḥat al-asmaʾ of Loṭf-Allāh Ḥalīmī (d. 922/1516), a Persian tutor at the Ottoman court who also compiled several Persian dictionaries. His contemporary Ebrāhīm Šabestarī (d. ca. 916/1510) in western Persia compiled al-Lōḡa fī tarjamat al-esm (Monzawī, p. 327). In the waning of the Safavid period Mahdīqolī Khan Ṣafā was commissioned by Shah Solṭān Ḥosayn (1105-35/1694-1722) to compile the Samāʾ al-asmāʾ. Arranged alphabetically by final letter, the work has a long introduction acknowledging sources from Zamaḵšarī to the Borhān-e qāteʿ (q.v.; Monzawī, p. 343).

4. Universal. Adīb Naṭanzī in the late 11th century compiled the elaborate Dastūr al-lōḡa or [Ketāb al-] ḵalāsá, perhaps for the Saljuqid vizier Ḵᵛāja Neẓām-al-Molk. The bulk of the 7,000 entries are alphabetically ordered by initial, with glosses sometimes in Arabic instead of Persian; appended are some topical sections on names of months, days, etc. and a verse grammar of Arabic. This work was the first to distinguish by diacritics the letters representing Persian consonants not found in Arabic (Monzawī, pp. 270-72; Storey, p. 81). Maḥmūd Zamaḵšarī (d. 538/1144), Moʿtazilite polymath of Chorasmia and author of the important Arabic dictionary Asās al-balāḡa, also compiled the Arabic-Persian Moqad-demat al-adab (ed. J. G. Wetzstein, Leipzig, 1844-45; ed. M.-K. Emām, 2 vols., Tehran, 1963) for the Ḵᵛārazmšāh Atsïz Ḡarčaʾī (q.v.). Unlike the Asās al-balāḡa, which is ordered alphabetically by initial of the root, the Moqaddema is a cumbersome hybrid, organized morphologically under nouns, verbs, particles, inflexion of nouns, inflexion of verbs (qesm), then partly semantically (synonyms and antonyms) and partly alphabetically by rhyme. One manuscript includes Chorasmian instead of Persian glosses (Haywood, pp. 118-19; Monzawī, pp. 276-77; Storey, pp. 82-84). Also at the court of Atsïz was Rašīd-al-Dīn Vaṭvāṭ (d. 573/1177-78), to whom is attributed the Arabic-Persian vocabulary known from its opening words as Ḥamd o ṯanā (Monzawī, pp. 282-83; Storey, III, pp. 85-87). This, too, arranges the material under parts of speech, but also juxtaposes synonyms and antonyms. The earliest strictly alphabetical bilingual dictionary (albeit by rhyme) is the Qānūn-e adab (comp. 545/1150-51; ed. Ḡ.-R. Ṭāher, 3 vols., Tehran, 1971-72) of Ḥobayš Teflīsī (Monzawī, pp. 286-89; Storey, III, p. 87), expressly designed to help Persian poets find rhymes and as a thesaurus for men of letters. Appendixes included the measures of maṣdars, plurals, and biographies of Arab poets, poetesses, and notables. Although Teflīsī’s lexicographical works still show dialect differences, they mark the coming of age of literary Persian in the northwest of the Persian world, namely Azerbaijan and eastern Anatolia, to which it had spread from Khorasan more than a century before, and the continuing Persianization of the Turkish élite here as formerly in the east (the Qānūn inspired a Persian-Turkish glossary of 1190/1776, the Alsena-ye ṯalāṯa “trilinguum” of Saʿd-al-Dīn Mostaqīm-zāda).

There seems to have been by this time an increased need for dictionaries of classical Arabic to serve an enlarged body of professionals who generally functioned in vernacular Persian or Turkish. The anonymous Jawāmeʿ al-lōḡāt (alphabetic by root initial), written for an atabeg dynast in 641/1243, focused on secretarial vocabulary, and Sadīd-al-Dīn Moḥammad Nasafī’s al-Ṣaḥīfa [al-ʿaḏrāʾ] al-sadīdīya of 649/1251 declared in its Arabic preface that it was compiled for the benefit of Turkoman jurists (faqīhs; Monzawī, p. 305). Lexicographers could by now rely on an extensive corpus of monolingual and bilingual dictionaries. The famous Arabic rhyme-order dictionary by Jawharī, al-Ṣaḥāhá/Ṣeḥāhá fi’l-lōḡa, completed at Nīšāpūr around 398/1007 (Haywood, pp. 68-76), was abridged with a Persian translation as al-Ṣorāḥ men al-Ṣaḥāhá by Abu’l-Fażl Jamāl-al-Dīn Moḥammad Qaršī at Kāšḡar in 681/1282. Keeping the rhyme arrangement and the Koranic and Hadith citations and proverbs, Qaršī dispensed with the verse citations and glossed each of the 40,000 entries with a single Persian word or expression. It proved a continuing success, inspiring numerous editions and commentaries (Calcutta, 1259/1843; Monzawī, pp. 306-10; Storey, pp. 78-80). In 725/1324 appeared the Taršīḥ al-fażāʾel, an abridgement of Zamaḵšarī’s Moqaddemat al-adab. The Ṣaḥāhá and other works are acknowledged as sources for the popular Kanz al-lōḡāt of Moḥammad b. Maʿrūf, written around 870/1465 for Solṭān-Moḥammad, the ruler of Gīlān. Primarily in rhyme order, the Kanz still segregates infinitives from other vocabulary; it concentrates on Koran and Hadith vocabulary and includes citations. Conversely, the Dastūr al-eḵwān (ca. 827/1424; ed. S. Najafī Asad-Allāhī, 2 vols., Tehran, 1970-72) by Qāżī Khan Badr Dhārvāl (q.v.) is arranged alphabetically by word (not root) initials, and devotes itself chiefly to the Arabic vocabulary of poetry and secular literature in Persian, without citations (Monzawī, p. 316; Storey, pp. 97, 99).

Arabic and Persian lexicography was henceforth practiced increasingly in India, where the rich and comparatively peaceful courts of a cultured Muslim elite attracted both native and immigrant scholars. These efforts bore fruit in the Montaḵab al-lōḡāt-e šāh-jahānī (comp. 1046/1636-37), the first serious and comprehensive prose dictionary for beginners and general readers of Persian. Compiled by ʿAbd-al-Rašīd Tattavī (q.v.), author of the the Farhang-e rašīdī, it is arranged in word-initial alphabetical order. Its rejection of rare vocabulary and ease of use made it immensely popular for centuries (lithographs are still available), and marked the establishment of Persian as the language of culture and administration in north India (Monzawī, pp. 339-40; Storey, pp. 101-02). Meanwhile, the celebrated Arabic Qāmūs of Fīrūzābādī (d. 817/1414) had become the subject of translations and commentaries: by ʿAbd-al-Raḥmān b. Ḥosayn in 1027/1618, by Mollā Mīrzā Moḥammad b. Ḥosayn Šīrvānī in Isfahan (both called Tarjamat [wa šarhá] al-Qāmūs), by Moḥammad b. Moḥammad-Šafīʿ Qazvīnī in 1117/1705 under the patronage of Shah Solṭān Ḥosayn (Tarjomān al-lōḡa), and by Mawlawī Moḥammad Ḥabīb-Allāh Eṣfahānī in Delhi in 1149/1736-37 (Qābūs) for the Mughal Moḥammad Shah (Monzawī, pp. 337-38, 344-45; Storey, pp. 96-97). These generally followed the rhyme order of their model. The most complete of them, however, which incorporated the results of other lexicographical classics, used the “modern” alphabetical order by root initial. This was the Montaha’l-arab fī lōḡāt al-ʿArab of ʿAbd-al-Raḥīm Ṣafīpūrī. Completed in 1241/1825 with the encouragement of British orientalists at Fort William College, Calcutta, it went through several editions and was soon regarded in both India and Persia as the most important Arabic-Persian dictionary available. Despite its many errors, it became a principal resource of subsequent Persian dictionaries such as Farhang-e Ānandrāj, Farhang-e Nafīsī, and Lōḡat-nāma-ye Dehḵodā (Monzawī, p. 347; Storey, p. 104). Arabic dictionaries continued to be translated into the present century, e.g., al-Monjed as Farhang-e Ḵalīlī in 1951 (Monzawī, p. 367).

5. Neṣāb-type. Versified vocabularies, exploiting the mnemonic value of rhyme and rhythm for rote learning, began with the Neṣāb al-ṣebyān of Abū Naṣr Farāhī (d. 640/1242). This work encapsulates 1365 Arabic terms and their Persian equivalents, covering the fields of religion, history, science, and literature in 200 bayts, arranged in 38 strophes and using 9 metres. The abundance of manuscripts, printed editions, commentaries, and imitations of the Neṣāb attests to its enormous success; it and its congeners were staples of traditional elementary schools throughout the Turco-Persian world. There were at least 24 Arabic-Persian imitations, and the genre was also exploited for learning Turkish, Hindi, English, and French vocabularies well into the 19th century (Monzawī, pp. 292-96, 299-300, 312-15, 321-25, 341, 365; Storey, pp. 88-91, 95, 98, 100, 102, 104-10; Naqawī, pp. 199-204; Dutt). One ingenious example of this genre, attributed implausibly to the poet Jāmī, is the Neṣāb-e tajnīs-e alfāzá, in which the Persian glosses, as homographs of Arabic words, are reglossed in Persian (e.g., Meṣr šahr o šahr māh o māʾ āb o ḵawf sahm /Sahm tīr o ajneḥa če bāl bāšad bāl jān), and so on (Monzawī, p. 314). Such curiosities have little value now, except perhaps as indices of their educational and cultural milieu.


(For cited works not given in detail, see “Short References.”) Manuscripts and editions are listed in Storey, III/1 pp. 78-110 (esp. those produced in Persia and India); and in two works of ʿAlī-Naqī Monzawī: Farhang-nāmahā-ye ʿarabī ba-fārsī, Tehran, 1337Š./1958, and an article of the same name and similar content in Dehḵodā, Introd., pp. 265-372 (esp. dictionaries produced in Persia and Turkey); references in the text are to this article. These works miss a number of manuscripts in India and Pakistan (cf. Naqawī, pp. 281-85) and modern editions.

Several critical editions have been issued by the Bonyād-e farhang-e Īrān in recent decades. See also M. Dabīrsīāqī, Farhanghā-ye fārsī, Tehran, 1989.

Ḥājeb Ḵayrāt Dehlavī, Dastūr al-afāżel, ed. Naḏīr Aḥmad, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973.

C. Dutt, “Persian ‘Niṣābs’ or Rhymed Vocabularies,” Indo-Iranica 14/1, 1961, pp. 14-31.

L. P. Elwell-Sutton, Bibliographical Guide to Iran, Brighton and New Jersey, 1983.

B. Forūzānfar, Farhang-e tāzī be fārsī I, Tehran, 1319 Š./1940.

J. A. Haywood, Arabic Lexicography, Leiden, 1960.

Idem and D. N. MacKenzie, “Ḳāmūs,” in EI2 IV, pp. 524-27.

ʿA.-A. Ḥekmat, Pārsī-e nāḡz, Tehran, 1323 Š./1944; repr. Tehran, 1330 Š./1951.

Ḥasan Ḵaṭīb Kermānī, Molaḵḵaṣ al-lōḡāt, ed. M. Dabīrsīāqī and Ḡ.-Ḥ. Yūsofī, Tehran, 1362 Š./1983.

S.ṟ Kīā, Vāžahā-ye moʿarrab dar montaha’l-ʿarab. Vāžahā-ye moʿarrab dar Ṣorāhá, 2 vols. in one, Tehran, 1352 Š./1973.

A. Ḵorāsgānī, Qaṭarāt dar šarḥ-e Neṣāb, Tabrīz, 1387-1967-68.

Monzawī, Nosḵahā III, pp. 1941-2046.

Š. Naqawī, Farhang-nevīsī-e fārsī dar Hend o Pākestān, Tehran, 1341 Š./1962.

V. S. Rybalkin, Arabskaiya leksikograficheskaya tradiciya, Kiev, 1990.

Rypka, Hist. Iran. Lit., pp. 429-37.




Dictionaries dealing with more than one language can be divided into two general categories of Asian and European. In terms of the number of dictionaries compiled, Asian languages other than Arabic include Turkish (more than 40 titles), Urdu (12 titles), Armenian (8 titles), Pashto (5 titles), Hindi (4 titles), Chinese (3 titles), Japanese (2 titles), and Syriac, Hebrew, Gujarati, and Bengali (1 title each). European languages include English (more than 125 titles), French (63 titles), German (35 titles), Russian (34 titles), Latin and Italian (8 titles each), Spanish (3 titles), and Greek, Esperanto, and Swedish (2 titles each).

The most common type of dictionary is bilingual. Persian is the source language in all Syriac, Bengali, Greek, and Latin dictionaries as well as in most Turkish (80 percent), Urdu (75 percent), Armenian (75 percent), Russian (67 percent), French (50 percent), Hindi (50 percent), and Swedish (50 percent) dictionaries. On the other hand, it is the target language in 75 percent of Pashtu dictionaries, about 67 percent of German, Spanish, and English dictionaries, and in all dictionaries of Gujarati and Esperanto.

History. Excluding Arabic, Turkish was the first language for which a bilingual Persian dictionary was compiled. The oldest such dictionary is the Ṣeḥāḥ al-ʿAjam by Faḵr-al-Dīn Hendūšāh b. Sanjar Naḵjavānī(ca. 731/1330; ed. Ḡ.-Ḥ Bīgdelī, Tehran, 1361 Š./1982). By the 17th century about eleven Persian-Turkish dictionaries had been compiled, the most famous of which is Lesān al-ʿAjam (1076/1665) by Ḥasan Šoʿūrī. Also in the 17th century three Persian-Latin dictionaries appeared by C. Ravius (Specimen Lexici Arabico-Persici-Latini, Leyden, 1645), Angelo de St. Joseph (Gazophylacium Linguae Persarum, Triplici Linguarum Clavi Ilalicae, Gallicae, nec non specialibus praeceptis ejusdem linguae reseratum, Amsterdam, 1685) and Edmond Casteli (London, 1686). In the 18th century, the first English, Italian, and German dictionaries were published. John Richardson published the first Persian-English dictionary in Oxford in 1777. By the end of that century three other English dictionaries were compiled, two of which were published in India (R. Jones, 1792; Gladwin, 1788). F. M. Meninski provided in his mutilingual dictionary (Vienna, 1780) equivalents of Persian words in German, Italian, Latin, Turkish, and Arabic. The number of dictionaries and languages covered (especially European languages) began to increase in the 19th century. Fifteen dictionaries were written for Turkish, most of which were compiled in Ottoman Turkey. The most famous of them is Lahja-ye ʿOṯmānī (1889) by Aḥmed Rafīq Pasha. Four other Latin dictionaries (considered to be the last of such dictionaries) were also written in this century, the most significant of which is Ioannis Vullers (Lexicon Persico-Latinum, 2 vols and a suppl., Bonn, 1855-67). Close to twenty English dictionaries were written in this century, including the well-known Persian-English dictionary of F. Steingass (1892) and a versified English-Persian dictionary, called Neṣāb, by Farhād Mīrzā Moʿtamed-al-Dawla (Tehran, 1296/1879). The first dictionaries of French (15 titles), Russian (4 titles), Hindi (3 titles), Armenian, Greek, Bengali, and German (each 1 title) were also compiled in this century. The French dictionaries of J. B. Nicolas (Dictionaire Français-Persan, 2vols., Paris, 1857-85), Jean Desmaison (Dictionaire Persan-Français, St. Petersburg, 1859-68), and A. B. Kazimirski (Vocabu-laire Français, Paris, 1883) are more significant that the others. A dictionary by Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan Ṣanīʿ-al-Dawla (Dictionaire des homonymes, Tehran, 1883) and another one attributed to Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah (Dictionaire manuel Français-Persan,Tehran, 1878) are also worth mentioning. The only Armenian dictionary of this century was compiled by H. A. Bezjian (Constantinople, 1826). The first Persian-Russian and Hindi-Persian dictionaries were written by Mīrzā ʿAbd-Allāh Ḡaffārof (Moscow, 1814) and Ṣāḥeb Fīrūz (Lahore, 1840) respectively.

The majority of bi/multilingual dictionaries were, however, compiled in the 20th century, as were the first dictionaries of Pushtu (5 titles), Chinese and Spanish (3 titles), Japanese, Esperanto, and Swedish (2 titles), and Hebrew, Syriac, and Gujarati (1 title each). In the first quarter of the century nine dictionaries of French, six Russian, four Urdu, four English, two German, and two Turkish were compiled. The most important Russian dictionary of this period was produced by L. N. Demitriv (Mašhad, 1906), while the most noteworthy English work was compiled by Arthor Wollaston (London, 1904). In the second quarter of the century, ten English, ten Russian, seven French, four Turkish, two German, two Pashtu, one Armenian, one Greek, one Hindi, and one Gujarati dictionaries were compiled. The Persian-English (Tehran, 1934) and English-Persian (Tehran, 1941) dictionaries of Solaymān Haïm are the most important English dictionaries published in this period, still considered dependable and widely used. Other noteworthy dictionaries of this period include B.V. Miller’s Persian-Russian dictionary (Moscow, 1950), Garegin Giragosian’s Persian-Armenian dictionary (Tehran, 1933), Saʿīd Nafīsī’s French-Persian dictionary (Tehran, 1930), and Nūr-Allāh Golestānī’s French-Persian dictionary (Tehran, 1943). In the third quarter of this century twenty-three dictionaries of English, seventeen German, twelve French, eleven Russian, seven Turkish, four Urdu, two Pashto, two Italian, and one Hebrew were compiled. Haïm’s dictionaries continued to be the most notable English dictionaries followed by those of Anne Lambton (London, 1954), ʿAbbās and Manūčehr Ārīānpūr (Tehran, 1967), and S.A.J. Reporter (Tehran, 1955, 1973). In other languages, the Persian-German, German-Persian dictionary by Bozorg ʿAlawī and H. F. Junker (Leipzig, 1965, Tehran, 1971) and the Persian-French, French-Persian dictionary by Mortażā Moʿallem (Tehran, 1971) should be mentioned. In the last quarter of this century, more than fifty dictionaries of English, five Italian, three Chinese, three Spanish, two Japanese, two Russian, two Armenian, two Esperanto, two Swedish, one Urdu, and one Turkish were compiled, with varying merits. Prior to the 20th century, Persian was more often a source language, while in the 20th century, with the number of dictionaries increasing, Persian has become more and more a target language.

Places of publication. Early Persian-Turkish dictionaries were compiled in Ottomon Turkey. From 731/1330, when Ṣeḥāḥ al-ʿAjam was compiled, to 1967, when Ibrahim Olgun and Cemsit Drahsan published their Farhang-e fārsī-torkī, about two-thirds of all Persian-Turkish dictionaries were produced in Turkey. Most Persian-English dictionaries were published in England, particularly in London and Oxford, and in the Indian subcontinent. From 1777, when J. Richardson’s Persian-Arabic-English dictionary was published, until 1954, when Ann Lambton’s Persian Vocabulary came out, seventeen Persian dictionaries were produced in England, of which three were English-Persian and the rest Persian-English. E. Castell’s 1686 Hebrew-Syriac-Ethiopic-Arabic-Persian-Latin and S. Veston’s 1802 Persian-Arabic-English-French-German-Latin-Greek dictionaries were also published in London. In the subcontinent twenty-one dictionaries (mainly Persian-English) were published between 1877 and 1952. Two Turkish dictionaries by Ebrāhīm b. Nūr Moḥammad (1849) and Šāh Jahān Begom (1886); three Hindi dictionaries by Gladwin (1801), Ṣāḥeb Fīrūz (1840), and ʿAdālat Khan (1890); and ten Urdu dictionaries were also published in the subcontinent. In the United States an English-Persian, Persian-English dictionary was published by J. Accardi in 1977. With the growth of the Iranian diaspora there in the 1980s seversl English-Persian and Persian-English dictionaries were published.

By 1976 twenty Russian dictionaries had been published in the former USSR, namely in Moscow, Saint Petersburg (Leningrad), Tbilisi, Baku, Yerevan, and Tashkent. One was published in Tabrīz (1917). Also in Moscow and Saint Petersburg three French dictionaries by Desmaison (Persian-French), A. Handjeri (French-Arabic-Persian-Turkish), and Mīrzā Šafīʿ Goštāsb (Persian-Russian-French) were published. In Baku a Persian-Russian-Azeri dictionary by Mīr Bābāyef was published in 1945, while in Yerevan, Ārām Būdāḡīān published his Persian-Armenian dictionary in 1961. Four years later a Pahlavi-Persian-Armenian-Russian-English by G. M. Naʿlbandīān was published in Yerevan.

Dictionaries published in Germany and Austria include the Persian-Latin dictionary by Vullers (1855-64), two Persian-French dictionaries by J. T. Zenker (1866-76) and A. Bergè (1912), six German dictionaries from R. Hans (1900) to Wilhelm Eilers (1965), and a Turkish-Arabic-Persian dictionary (1866). Five dictionaries have appeared in Paris, namely a Latin-Persian dictionary (1828) and four French dictionaries by Nicolas (1857), Bergé (1867), Kazimirski (1883), and Gilbert Lazard (1989). Three dictionaries have so far appeared in Italy, namely Desmaison’s Persian-French dictionary (1908-14) and two Persian-Italian dictionaries by A. Giodiergui and A. Bausani (1978). Other countries where Persian dictionaries have appeared include Japan (two titles in 1976) and China (two titles in 1981 and 1982). All five Pushto-Persian dictionaries produced so far have been published in Afghanistan.

Bi-multilingual dictionaries published in Persia include eighty-four English (mainly English-Persian), fifty-one French (including one by M. Ḥ. Ṣanīʿ-al-Dawla, Tehran, 1863), twenty-seven German, eight Turkish, five Armenian, five Russian, five Italian, three Spanish (1984-85), two Esperanto (1984), two Swedish (Swedish-Persian, 1988; Persian-Swedish, 1989), one Hebrew-Persian (1966), a Chinese-Persian (1981), an Urdu-Persian (1986), and a multi-language (1933) dictionaries.


Ī. Afšār, “Ketāb-šenāsī-e farhanghā-ye fārsī-orūpāʾī,” in Dehḵodā, introd, pp. 373-78.

M. Dabīrsīāqī, Farhanghā-ye fārsī wa farhang-gūnahā, Tehran, 1368 Š./1989.

M. Raḥmat-Allāhī, Ketāb-šenāsī-e farhanghā-ye do-zabāna wa čand-zabāna-ye fārsī, Theran, 1366 Š./1987.




Until the turn of the century, the number and coverage of specialized dictionaries were small and limited. But since then many such dictionaries have appeared, particularly within the last few decades. In these bilingual or multilingual dictionaries equivalents are mostly given in a European language, predominantly in English. Even in the case of monolingual dictionaries, English, French, or German equivalents are often added to the definition.

Before the 20th century. The oldest extant Persian texts that may be considered as dictionaries treat medical or pharmacological subjects. They include Tanwīr by Abū Manṣūr Ḥasan Nūḥ Qamarī Boḵārī (4th/10th cent.; ed. M.-K. Emām, Tehran, 1973), in which 321 Persian and Arabic medical terms are defined; the Ketābal-abnīa ʿan ḥaqāʾeq al-adwīa by Abū Manṣūr MowaffaqHeravī (5th/11th cent., q.v.), which describes in alphabetical order various drugs and their virtues (eds. A. Bahmanyār and Ḥ. Maḥbūbī Ardakānī, Tehran, 1967); and a rather free translation of Abū Rayḥān Bīrūnī’s Ṣaydana by Jalāl-al-Dīn Abū Bakr Kāšānī (7th/13th cent.; ed. M. Sotūda and Ī. Afšār, Tehran, 1979). Then we have Meftāḥ al-ḵazāʾen (in MS), or its revised version Eḵtīārāt-e badīʿī, by Zayn-al-Dīn ʿAlī b. Ḥosayn Aṭṭār (d. 806/1403) and Jawāher al-loḡa (comp. 924/1518) and Baḥr al-jawāher (comp. 938/1531; Tehran, 1288/1877) by Moḥammad b. Yūsof Ṭabīb Heravī. Heravī’s son, Yūsof b. Moḥammad, wrote the Arabic-Persian Lōḡāt-e yūsofī as well as a Hendī-Persian dictionary in verse (Dehḵkodā, intro., p. 296). A manuscript of the former exists in Ṣādeq Kīā’s collection in the Central Library of Tehran University. Three dictionaries have come down to us from the 11th/17th century, namely Alfāẓ al-adwīya by Ḥakīm Nūr-al-Dīn Šīrāzī, compiled in India in 1038/1628 (Lucknow, 1888); Ṣaḥāḥ al-adwīya by Ḥosayn b. Zayn-al-ʿĀbedīn in 1062/1652, a manuscript copy of which is in the Library of Madrasa-ye ʿĀlī-e Sepahsālār (now called Šahīd Moṭahharī); and Toḥfat al-moʾmenīn or Toḥfa-ye Ḥakīm Moʾmen by Moḥammad Moʾmen Ḥosaynī Tonokābonī (several editions). Two important dictionaries were compiled in the 18th century, namely Maḵzan al-adwīya by Mīr Moḥammad-Ḥosayn ʿAlawī Šīrāzī (many editions) and Mīzān al-adwīya by Saʿīd Moḥammad Lakhnavī, containing 476 Hindi words with their Persian definitions (Kanpur, 1332/1914). Of dictionaries compiled in the 13th/19th century, mention should be made of Farhang-e naṣīrīya by Ḥakīm Moḥammad-Naṣīr and a Persian-French-German-Arabic dictionary of Johann Schlimmer (Terminologie medico-pharmaceutique, Tehran, 1291/1874, repr. Tehran, 1970).

There are also two dictionaries of legal and religious terms from the 17th century, namely a versified one called Abwāb al-ʿolūm by Darvīš Jāmī and Enteḵābīya, compiled by Mollā Ebrāhīm in India. The Malek Library in Tehran holds a manuscript copy of the latter (Monzawī, Nosḵahā III, pp. 1920, 1961). A French-Russian-Ottoman-Persian dictionary of military terms was reportedly published in Saint Petersburg in 1306/1889 (Raḥmat-Allāhī, no. 627).

The 20th century. In this century specialized dictionaries have appeared at an accelarating pace: 12 dictionaries were published in during1920-49, 51 during 1950-69, and 249 in the next two decades. Of these 68 percent are Persian-English (or vice versa), 14 percent Persian and a second language, 9 percent multilingual, and 9 percent monolingual (Table 30). Of the total number of dictionaries published during this period, 24 percent deal with technology; 15 percent with applied sciences; 11 percent with medicine, pharmaceutics, and health; 10 percent with economics, banking, management, and accounting; 8 percent with social sciences, western philosophy, education, political science, and population; 7 percent with modern mathematics and statistics; 6 percent with logic and Islamic philosophy; and the remaining 19 percent with military science, library science, journalism, printing, law, agriculture, linguistics, literature, cinema, music, and sports (Table 31).

Specialized dictionaries continued to appear at a remarkable pace in the 1990s. By the end of 1992, fifty-two such dictionaries had been published, of which thirty are English-Persian, thirteen monolingual, eight multilingual, and one German-Persian. Nine of them deal with technology, seven with social sciences and western philosophy, six with economics and administration, six with applied sciences, five with Islamic culture and religious sciences, and nineteen with other fields.


M. Dabīrsīāqī, Farhanghā-ye fārsī wa farhang-gūnahā, Tehran, 1368 Š./1989.

L.–M. Raḥmat-Allāhī, Ketāb-šenāsī-e farhangā-ye do-zabāna wa čand-zabāna-ye fārsī, Tehran, 1366 Š./1987.

A. Yārmoḥammadī, “Ketāb-nāma-ye farhang-nāmahā-ye mawẓūʿī,” Našr-e dāneš 3/1, 1981, pp. 48-53.




(ʿAlī Ašraf Ṣādeqī, John R. Perry, Ḥosayn Sāmeʿī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1995

Last Updated: November 28, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 4, pp. 387-397