Versions and Changes

DSL Online provides free access to The Scottish National Dictionary (SND) and A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST). First published during the twentieth century, their 12,000 pages in 22 volumes provide a remarkable record of the language, history, culture and traditions of the Scots-speaking people. By sharing these dictionaries online we allow their contents to be enjoyed far and wide.

DSL Online’s current database version is 3.0, which was published on 26 April 2022. Version 1 was published in March 2004, to which the second supplement of SND was added in 2005. Version 2 was published in September 2014.

As differences between versions are substantial, we strongly recommend that any publication or research using DSL Online indicate the version number of the database used.


Version 1 to version 2 (September 2014)
• An improved interface makes the dictionary easier to use.
• All 90,000 internal cross-references are hyperlinked.
• Nearly all 750,000 citations are hyperlinked to the relevant entry in DSL’s bibliography.
• Many more variant forms are now searchable.
• An autocomplete facility is added to Quick Search.

Version 2 to version 3 (April 2022)
• All 8,000 entries marked ‘supplementary (1976)’ or ‘supplementary (2005)’ which originated in SND’s supplements are now fully integrated with SND’s original entries.
• All 2,000 entries marked ‘supplementary’ which originated in DOST’s Additions and Corrections are now fully integrated with DOST’s original entries.
• We now say when each entry was first published and whether it incorporates any supplementary material.
• Thousands of corrections and minor edits have been implemented, including restoration of most of the special characters that were inadvertently lost in version 2.0.
• All 3,000 references to ‘next’ or ‘preceding’ entries have been replaced by hyperlinks to the relevant entries. This addresses a hangover from the dictionaries’ original print format.
• There is easier access to explanations of abbreviations and symbols used throughout the dictionaries.
• The maximum number of search results displayed is increased to 500 and the total number of results is now shown.
• The browse order of headwords is fully alphabetical. The previous system ordered by headword ID number, which sometimes produced words out of sequence.
• Dates have been added to thousands of quotations in DOST. Previously these dates were only accessible via the bibliography.
• 360 sources cited but not listed in SND have been added to the bibliography.

Future plans

The ten volumes of our Scottish National Dictionary (SND) were published in print between 1934 and 1976, the twelve volumes of our Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST) between 1937 and 2002. The content of all 22 volumes (running to some 79,000 entries over 12,000 pages) was first published online in 2004 following a complex, 3-year digitisation project. Apart from adding a supplement to SND in 2005, most of our subsequent work has concentrated on making the online versions of SND and DOST more user-friendly and adding XML structure to facilitate future improvements.

Our next round of priorities are as follows:

• Begin a programme of sensitivity reviews to ensure that our content is appropriate for a twenty-first century readership.
• Eradicate abbreviations used extensively throughout the SND so that its content is easier to follow. (SND is rife with abbreviations due to its print origins, which demanded maximal brevity to minimise printing costs.)
• Explore ways to support the identification and comparison of patterns in word geographies.
• Enable quotation search results to be filtered by date.
• Enable advanced search results to be filtered by part of speech.

While our ambitions are grand, our resources are modest. We rely entirely on an annual grant from the Scottish Government to fund our operations but the amount we receive does not keep in line with inflation. If you would like to support our work, please consider a donation.