The “Althochdeutsches Wörterbuch” of the Saxon Academy of Sciences is a ten-volume dictionary of references to the oldest German language. It documents and indexes the entire vocabulary preserved in texts, glosses, and glossaries from the beginnings of German writing in the 8th century up to late documents of the 13th to 15th century from old traditional sources and spatially from the Alemannic-Bavarian south via the various parts of Franconian to the Lower German Old Saxon.
It is based on the archive founded by Elias von Steinmeyer (1848–1922) and continuously updated since then, with about 750,000 excerpts from philological-critical editions. Elisabeth Karg-Gasterstädt (1886–1964) and Theodor Frings (1886–1968) developed the complex dictionary concept with its meticulous working method. It aims to provide historical linguistics with a fundamental, long-term instrument for research in historical linguistics. The handed down word forms are assigned to normalised approaches and are described in terms of sound, grammar, semantics, and syntax, including the corresponding contexts. All references are interpreted and fully listed, with the contexts quoted in selection depending on their significance or difficulty, in order to illustrate and verify the use of a word. The distribution and development of a word is documented by systematic reference to dictionaries of other Old Germanic languages and the younger German language levels. The “Althochdeutsche Wörterbuch” offers insights into the early German culture and language, which have been shaped by the adoption of antiquity and Christianity as well as the close relationship to the Romanic and Irish-Anglo-Saxon cultures.