Thanks to a MetaFilter comment by xueexueg, I’ve discovered the Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini, which, as xueexueg says, will be the OED of older Italian. It’s only up to the letter D (and is only “quasi complete” for A and B) and uses only texts from before 1375, but it’s extremely comprehensive and fun to consult. Looking up amore (naturalmente!), we find first a full list of spellings (ammore, amò, amô, amor, amor’, âmor, amore, ämore, amori, amorre, amors, amur, amure, amuri, amurj, mor, ‘mor, ‘more), a list of collocations it occurs in (amare per amore, amor falso, amore fraterno, amore paterno, amor fino…), a set of definitions, and finally the heart of the entry, a list of citations illustrating each of the senses:

1 Sentimento di chi desidera o intrattiene un rapporto intimo ed esclusivo, spirituale o fisico, con un’altra persona; affetto intenso, passione.
[1] Raimb. de Vaqueiras, Contrasto, c. 1190 (gen.), 53, pag. 165: Si per m’amor ve chevei, / oguano morrei de frei: / tropo son de mala lei / li Provenzal.
[2] Giacomo da Lentini, c. 1230/50 (tosc.), 19c.1, pag. 275: Amor è un[o] desio che ven da core / per abondanza di gran piacimento…
[3] Pamphilus volg., c. 1250 (venez.), [Panfilo], pag. 47.20: E chascun amore lo qual non è pasudo, çoè saciado de çogi e de solaci, sì è debele et enfermo.
[4] Andrea da Grosseto (ed. Selmi), 1268 (tosc.), L. 3, cap. 19, pag. 256.5: Et sappi, che a l’amor perfetto fa fine ‘l tempo et non l’animo; perciò che, nonn- è in podestà dell’animo del lasciare e di rimanersi de l’amore.
[5] Giovanni, 1286 (prat.), 8, pag. 22: Dialtuccia piace(n)te i(n) aspecto, / suo viso rispre(n)de i(n) dilecto: / alchuno no(n) fue sì in p(er)fecto / amore. […]

A splendid project; I hope it’s well funded and perseveres to the end of the alphabet.


  1. Great project. Do you speak Italian, by the way?

  2. I read it fairly well; I don’t speak it beyond the usual conversational phrases.

  3. That is incredibly cool!

  4. Sisuile says:

    oh, cool! I’m going to pass this on to all the manuscript transcriptionists I know, we need something for the older words…

  5. Hey, cool, I got mentioned by Languagehat!
    Two completely unrelated Italian wordgame links:
    A daily column from La Repubblica: Lessico e Nuvole by Stefano Bartezzaghi. Bartezzaghi might be sort of an Italian Will Shortz but I’m not sure about that. The current column is the third installment in a list of words that, in their masculine form, mean a male who has particular, generally positive, qualities; but that in the feminine mean “hooker”: “un peripatetico” is a follower of Aristotle, but “una peripatetica” is a prostitute.
    And if you ever see a copy of La Settimana Enigmistica on an international newsstand, check it out. They have the coolest rebuses I’ve ever seen.

Speak Your Mind