The first edition of the Dictionary

A reading programme was established in 1921 at the National Library of Wales as the first
research project of the University of Wales Board of Celtic Studies in order to create the collection of citation slips which would form the basis for the Dictionary. Editorial work started in 1948 under the editorship of R. J. Thomas, and following his retirement in 1975 Gareth A. Bevan was appointed editor. Patrick J. Donovan was promoted to joint-editor in 1998.

The Dictionary was published in 64-page parts by the University of Wales Press from 1950 onwards, before being combined into 4 volumes:

volume 1       a – ffysur                    1967               R. J. Thomas

volume 2       g – llyys                       1987               Gareth A. Bevan

volume 3       m – rhywyr                 1998               Gareth A. Bevan and Patrick J. Donovan

volume 4       s – Zwinglïaidd          2002               Gareth A. Bevan and Patrick J. Donovan

After 80 years’ work and over half a century of drafting articles, the last entry of the first
edition, for the word Zwinglïaidd, was written in December 2001.

The four volumes contain:

  • 7.3 million words of text
  • 105,586 headwords
  • 56,188 cross-references
  • 84,596 etymologies
  • 348,657 citations dating from the year 631 to 2000
  • 323,311 Welsh definitions
  • 290,001 English equivalents

The second edition of the Dictionary

Because Welsh is a living language with its vocabulary expanding constantly, the work needs to be regularly updated by adding new words and meanings. Work on re-editing A-B started in 2002, and twelve parts have been published so far. Following the retirement of Gareth A. Bevan and Patrick J. Donovan, Andrew Hawke took over the editorship in 2008.

The second edition is based not only on the Dictionary’s collection of citation slips, but also on a wide range of electronic resources such as the Welsh Prose 1300–1425 website (Cardiff University), JISC Historic Books including EEBO and ECCO (The British Library), Welsh Newspapers Online and Welsh Journals Online (National Library of Wales), and the National Terminology
(Bangor University).

GPC Online

In 2011, collaborative work began with iLEX Digital Publishing from Denmark to convert the Dictionary data to XML so that it could be used in the iLEX dictionary editing
system, and to produce an online dictionary.

After three years’ work, GPC Online was launched by the First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, AM, in the Welsh Assembly, on 26 June 2014.

This free online version permits searching for English words as well as Welsh words and expressions. It is an invaluable resource for all those interested in the Welsh language.


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