The Shakespeare Dictionary, otherwise known as a lexicon, is a very handy tool. For one, I have had numerous teachers contact me to ask me what a specific word means, or to understand what context a word should be used in, or in what play it was found. So, in one shot, I am going to answer all of these questions, in various ways, depending on your mode of absorption.
Shakespeare Dictionary BOOKS
First of all, the easiest for your bookshelf is to find a Shakespeare Dictionary and purchase one. Here are a couple I have used in the past, with some quick notes:
Shakespeare Lexicon by Alexander Schmidt – this is a republication of a body of work first published in 1902… the good news is that not much has really changed in Shakespeare’s plays, so, neither have the definitions… I like this one because it gives the play (down to what line in what scene), and the definition of the word in the context it was used for that given play. However, some of the language is old school and may not be as appealing to the kids, as they use this as a reference tool.
I personally like using a Shakespeare Glossary by CT Onions. Although a bit pricey, it is well worth it. It’s a newer version and has every word and what scene it was spoken as well as the definitions in it. The glossary is very easy to understand.
Shakespeare Dictionary ONLINE
There’s also an online Shakespeare Dictionary by David Crystal. It’s a little bit cumbersome, however very useful when using technology in the classroom. He also has a book, Shakespeare’s Words, that goes along with this so you can use them in tandem. I have not personally used the book, so I can not speak to it, but I do like approaching education in a multiple angles. So, this may be a great option for you.
Shakespeare Dictionary APP
And lastly, there is a great Shakespeare app that is able to help you. Having a Shakespeare dictionary in your smart phone is the best way to go. It is called “Shakespeare” by Readdle. It has all the books in it as well as definitions, I have been using it for years. Best of all, it’s free!
If you have know of any other Shakespeare dictionaries or references, let me know, I would love to review and share!