German dictionary


The German Dictionary (DWB) explains the words of the German language and quotes texts in which they can be found. This linguistic work also does not exclude "vulgar" words and documents how literary-historical research is applied to contemporary linguistic usage.

Time consuming

When the brothers Grimm began this project in 1838, they reckoned it would take about ten years of work. Wilhelm Grimm got as far as the letter D, Jacob reached the word “Frucht” (fruit). Generations of linguists continued the work on the German dictionary, which was initially concluded in 1961.


After their dismissal from the civil service as a result of their political activity with the “Göttingen Seven”, the Grimm brothers involuntarily became the most famous Germanists of their time. This aroused the interest of publishers and, thanks to Jacob’s negotiating skills, helped them find long-term financial security in their work on the German dictionary.


The comprehensive “German Dictionary” is now available as a database with a search function in electronic form. It is a project of the Center for Digital Humanities at the University of Trier in a joint project with the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the publishing house Hirzel in Stuttgart. It was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of the DFG programme "Retrospective Digitisation of Library Holdings".

The German Dictionary online