Diccionario de la lengua española

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Diccionario de la lengua española
The Twenty-Second Edition of 2001
SubjectSpanish language
PublisherRoyal Spanish Academy
Publication date
  • First edition: 1780
  • 2nd edition: 1783
  • 3rd edition: 1791
  • 4th edition: 1803
  • 5th edition: 1817
  • 6th edition: 1822
  • 7th edition: 1832
  • 8th edition: 1837
  • 9th edition: 1843
  • 10th edition: 1852
  • 11th edition: 1869
  • 12th edition: 1884
  • 13th edition: 1899
  • 14th edition: 1914
  • 15th edition: 1925
  • 16th edition: 1936/1939
  • 17th edition: 1947
  • 18th edition: 1956
  • 19th edition: 1970
  • 20th edition: 1984
  • 21st edition: 1992
  • 22nd edition: 2001
  • 23rd edition: 2014

The Diccionario de la lengua española[a] (DLE;[b] English: Dictionary of the Spanish language) is the authoritative dictionary of the Spanish language.[1] It is produced, edited and published by the Royal Spanish Academy, with the participation of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language. It was first published in 1780, as the Diccionario de la lengua castellana[2] and subsequent editions have been published about once a decade. The twenty-third edition was published in 2014; it is available on-line, incorporating modifications to be included in the twenty-fourth print edition.[3]

The dictionary was created to maintain the linguistic purity of the Spanish language; unlike many English-language dictionaries, it is intended to be authoritative and prescriptive,[4] rather than descriptive.[5]

Origin and development[edit]


When the RAE was founded in 1713, one of its primary objectives was to compile an authoritative Spanish dictionary. Its first statutes said in 1715 that its purpose was to:[4]: 125 

cultivate and stabilise the purity and elegance of the Castilian language, removing all the errors in words, modes of speech, and syntax that have been introduced by ignorance, vain affectation, carelessness, and the excessive freedom to innovate. It will be used to distinguish foreign words, phrases and constructions from our own, the outdated from the current, the low and rustic from the courtly and elevated, burlesque from seriousness, and, finally, the accurate from the inaccurate.[6]

The RAE's original motto of limpia, fija y da esplendor (It cleans, stabilises, and gives splendour [to the language]) was in more recent times modified to unifica, limpia y fija (it unifies, cleans, and stabilises).[7] In 1995 it was still expected to "establish and spread the criteria of propriety and correctness".[4]: 126–127 [8]

Despite this policy, in the 21st century the Academy has responded to criticism about definitions considered to be derogatory or racist such as trapacero ("swindler") for gitano ("gypsy") by saying that the dictionary tries to reflect actual usage, and that nothing is changed by removing the definition from the dictionary, education must be used to eradicate inappropriate usages.[9] However, after refusing to change some definitions, they were ultimately changed. See the section Criticism below for examples.


The first dictionary was the six-volume Diccionario de Autoridades (Dictionary of Authorities) from 1726 to 1739. Based on that work, an abridged version was published in 1780, the full title of which was Diccionario de la lengua castellana compuesto por la Real Academia Española, reducido á un tomo para su más fácil uso (Dictionary of the Castilian tongue composed by the Royal Spanish Academy, reduced to one volume for its easier use). According to its prologue, the dictionary was published for general public access during the long time between the publishing of the first and second editions of the exhaustive Diccionario de Autoridades, thus offering a cheaper reference book. By the time the second edition was published, it had become the principal dictionary, superseding its ancestor.

The fourth edition of the dictionary (1803) introduced the digraphs "ch" (che) and "ll" (elle) to the Spanish alphabet as separate, discrete letters. Entries starting with "ch" were placed after all the "c" entries (so czarda appeared before chacal), and "ll" entries after "l". Also in 1803, the letter "x" was replaced with "j" when it had the same pronunciation as "j", and the circumflex accent (^) was eliminated.[citation needed] In 1994, it was decided at the 10th Congress of the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language to use the universal Latin alphabet, which does not include "ch" and "ll" as single letters.[10]

The earliest editions were more extensive: they included Latin translations of the entry, in some cases gave usage examples (especially in popular phrases), and summarized the word's etymology; contemporary editions do so concisely. The earliest editions had "x" entries that no longer appear individually.[citation needed]

Historically, the decision to add, modify, or delete words from the dictionary has been made by the RAE, in consultation with other language authorities (especially in Latin America) when there was an uncertainty. This process continued between 1780 and 1992, but, since the 1992 edition, RAE committees, the Instituto de Lexicografía, and the Association of Academies of the Spanish Language—which specifically deals with American vocabulary—collaborate in producing the Dictionary of the Spanish Language.[11]

List of editions[edit]

The editions are listed on the RAE Web site, and the forewords of former editions can be accessed from there.[3] Some editions, including the 1726–1739 Diccionario de autoridades, are available in facsimile,[12] or for online search.[13]

Title page of the 1780 edition
First page of the Prologue to the 1780 edition
Second page of the Prologue to the 1780 edition
List of academics, as printed in the 1780 edition


Until the twenty-first edition, the DLE was published exclusively on paper. The 2001, twenty-second edition was published on paper, CD-ROM, and on the Internet with free access. The 23rd edition of 2014 was made available online with free access,[2] incorporating modifications to be included in the twenty-fourth print edition.

Sample entries, with explanation of annotations and abbreviations, are available from the RAE Web site.[14]

Previous titles[edit]

From the first edition (1780) through the fourth edition (1803), the dictionary was known as the Diccionario de la lengua castellana compuesto por la Real Academia Española (Dictionary of the Castilian language composed by the Spanish Royal Academy). From the fifth edition (1817) through the fourteenth edition (1914), it was known as the Diccionario de la lengua castellana por la Real Academia Española (Dictionary of the Castilian language by the Spanish Royal Academy). Starting with the fifteenth edition (1925), it has been known as the Diccionario de la lengua española (Dictionary of the Spanish language), to recognise the many regions of the Spanish-speaking world.[3]


Pejorative definitions[edit]

Many Spanish dictionaries have had racial and religious bias over the centuries; the DLE is no exception. Christianity and Catholicism were described in favourable terms; Judaism, Islam, and Protestantism unfavourably.[15] By 2021 few biased definitions remained in the updated online DLE;[15]: iv  one that could be considered biased is one of the uses of moro (Moor, i.e. Muslim) – 10: (colloquial) A jealous and possessive man, who dominates his partner.[16]

In 2006, the Spanish Federation of Jewish Communities complained that some of the dictionary's entries and definitions about Judaism were racist and offensive.[17] One definition of sinagoga (synagogue) was: "a meeting for illicit ends"; the nominal definition of 'synagogue' was given first, and the pejorative definition was so identified. This had been removed by 2021.[18]

In November 2014, Romani in Spain complained about RAE at the European Court of Human Rights.[19] Yerba-buena, an association of Spanish gitanos ("gypsies" in English), complained that one definition of Gitano: "one who practices deceit" or "one who tricks", is offensive and could encourage racism.[9] The RAE responded that the word gitano is actually used with the meaning of "trickster" in Spanish,[20] and that the dictionary documents the actual use of words; inappropriate use has to be eradicated by education, removing the word from the dictionary does not change its use: "we simply photograph the landscape; we do not create it".[17] However, in November 2014 it was announced that the definition was to be modified,[21] and in October 2015 it was changed,[22] with trapacero included in the definitions in the updated online dictionary, but labelled "used as offensive or discriminatory".[23]

RAE also defined "woman" as the "weak sex".[24] In November 2017, the term was examined[25][26] and one month later it was changed.[27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Spanish pronunciation: [diɣθjoˈnaɾjo ðe la ˈleŋɡwa espaˈɲola]
  2. ^ Although often referred to as the DRAE (Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, this is not the official title of the publication."Diccionario de la lengua española, claves de redacción". Fundéu (in Spanish). 15 October 2014.


  1. ^ Diccionario de la lengua española (in Spanish). Madrid: Real Academia Española. Archived 22 January 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Diccionario de la lengua española". Real Academia Española (in Spanish). October 2014. Archived from the original on 17 June 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Presentación del "Diccionario de la lengua española" y sus ediciones" [Presentation of the 'Diccionario de la lengua española', and editions]. Real Academia Española. Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Darren Paffey (October 2008). Language, discourse and ideology: the Real Academia Española and the standardisation of Spanish. University of Southampton.
  5. ^ "A Word on 'Descriptive' and 'Prescriptive' Defining". merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  6. ^ cultivar y fijar la pureza y elegancia de la lengua castellana, desterrando todos los errores que, en sus vocablos, en sus modos de hablar o en la construcción ha introducido la ignorancia, la vana afectación, el descuido y la demasiada libertad de innovar. Será su empleo distinguir los vocablos, frases o construcciones extranjeras de las propias, las anticuadas de las usadas, las bajas y rústicas de las cortesanas y levantadas, las burlescas de las serias y, finalmente, las propias de las figuradas.
  7. ^ Antoni Nomdedeu Rull: "Por qué la Real Academia Española es modelo de norma lingüística"
  8. ^ ... establecer y difundir los criterios de propiedad y corrección
  9. ^ a b "Protestas contra la RAE por considerar racista la acepción de gitano - RTVE.es" [Protests against the RAE considering that the definition of 'gitano' is racist]. RTVE, Spanish radio and TV (in Spanish). 7 November 2014.
  10. ^ "X Congreso (Madrid, 1994)". Real Academia Española. Archived from the original on May 7, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  11. ^ "Cómo se hace el "Diccionario de la lengua española"" [How the 'Diccionario de la lengua española' is made]. Real Academia Española (in Spanish). Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  12. ^ "Diccionario de autoridades" (facsímil) (in Spanish). Real Academia Española. 1739.
  13. ^ ""Diccionario de autoridades" (Search page)" (in Spanish). Real Academia Española. 1739.
  14. ^ "Artículos de muestra" [Examples of articles] (PDF). Real Academia Española (in Spanish). Retrieved 19 August 2021.
  15. ^ a b Lauren Kelli Howard (December 2010). Racism and Religious Bias in Castilian Spanish Language Dictionaries (PDF) (MA thesis). Texas A&M University.
  16. ^ "moro". Diccionario de la lengua española. Real Academia Española. Retrieved 20 August 2021.
  17. ^ a b "The Sunday Times". Timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-08-18. [permanent dead link]
  18. ^ "sinagoga". Diccionario de la lengua española. Real Academia Española. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  19. ^ Europa Press (8 November 2014). "El colectivo gitano denunciará a la RAE ante el Tribunal de Derechos Humanos". El País (in Spanish). Madrid. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  20. ^ "La RAE mantendrá la polémica acepción de 'gitano' como 'trapacero'" [The RAE will keep the controversial definition of 'gitano' [gypsy] as 'swindler']. Público (in Spanish). Display Connectors, S.L. EFE. 23 August 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  21. ^ Europa Press (7 November 2014). "RAE no censurará la acepción polémica de 'gitano' pero buscará fórmulas para que se entienda su significado peyorativo". 20 Minutos (in Spanish). Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  22. ^ Agencias (14 October 2015). "La RAE retoca la polémica acepción de 'gitano'". El Mundo (in Spanish). Madrid: Unidad Editorial. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  23. ^ "gitano". Diccionario de la lengua española. Real Academia Española. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  24. ^ Justo, David (20 December 2017). "La RAE sigue definiendo a la mujer como el 'sexo débil', pero admite que es despectivo". Cadena SER (in Spanish). Madrid. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  25. ^ Europa Press (29 November 2017). "La RAE actualizará en diciembre el uso de "sexo débil" como "despectivo" y "discriminatorio"". El Periódico de Catalunya (in Spanish). Grupo Zeta. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  26. ^ Europa Press (3 March 2017). "La RAE matizará la definición de 'sexo débil'". Huffington Post (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  27. ^ Lázaro, Margarita (20 December 2017). "La RAE cambia el significado de 'sexo débil'". Huffington Post (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 July 2018.

External links[edit]