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Schmeller, Johann Andreas: Bayerisches Wörterbuch – Bavarian Dictionary

Johann Andreas SchmellerJohann Andreas Schmeller


The linguist and librarian Johann Andreas Schmeller (1785-1852) was one of the most important dialect researchers of the 19th century. Schmeller started working on his "Bayerisches Wörterbuch" ("Bavarian dictionary") in 1816. The first two parts of it were published in 1827, the third and fourth only in 1837, after Schmeller had become curator ("Custos") at the Munich court library, today's Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, in 1829. The second edition of the dictionary, published in 1872 and 1877 by Georg Karl Frommann (1814-1887) has remained a standard work until today. With the "Bayerisches Wörterbuch" the new type of the historical dialect dictionary for a major geographic region was created, with many further dictionaries of the type to follow.


The concept of Schmeller's work was to compile a dialect dictionary of the complete kingdom of Bavaria of the time. The "Bayerisches Wörterbuch" contains only few Franconian entries and almost no Swabian entries, however, so that the Bavarian dialect is predominant.

The dictionary documents not only the dialect spoken at the time of Schmeller. Rather, Schmeller also took account of the written tradition, primarily the manuscripts of the court library. The annotations to the individual entries furthermore contain ample cultural-historically and ethnologically relevant information.

User guide

The two volumes of the dictionary are available in the form of image files for the time being. The indexing took place on the basis of the table of contents.

The unusual subdivision of Schmeller's dictionary, which is not oriented on the usual alphabetic order, is confusing at the start. It is therefore recommended to consult the introduction "Nothwendige Vorbemerkungen" first. Using the dictionary is facilitated by the alphabetic comprehensive register in volume II compiled by Georg Karl Fromman.

Information on the project

The project has been accessible online since August 2007. A full-text version of the register is being prepared.


  • Anthony Rowley (Hg.), Sprachbrockensammler, Wortklauber und idioticographischer Gesottschneider. Vorträge zum Jubiläumsjahr 2002 (yearbook of the Johann-Andreas-Schmeller Society 2002), Bayreuth 2003.


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