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. 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.

  6. Amazingly, in only fifteen years they’ve gotten all the way to zucchettina s.f.:

    1 [Per similitudine, detto del bocciolo del cappero, che ha la forma di una piccola zucca].
      [1] f Libro della cura delle malattie: Cava lo sugo delle zucchettine del cappero. || Crusca (3) s.v. zucchettina.

    In the world of lexicography, that’s lightning speed!

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