About the Dictionary

This dictionary describes English as it has been spoken and written in South Africa from the late 17th century onwards. It records the meanings, spellings, pronunciations and origins of

words borrowed from the many languages of South Africa, English words which have acquired particular senses here, and words coined for local phenomena.

First published in print as A Dictionary of South African English on Historical Principles (Oxford University Press, 1996, Silva et al.), the online edition has been thoroughly redesigned to make the dictionary’s unrivalled record of the South African variety of English accessible in new ways. It introduces numerous enhancements possible in the digital medium, from visualisation at the entry level to category-based filtering of the entire dictionary. The full text of the dictionary is available cost-free.

The Dictionary Unit for South African English

Both the online and print editions are projects of the Dictionary Unit For South African English (DSAE). A complete list of the the staff of the first, printed edition, which took 25 years to compile and has been out of print since 2005, is given here.