Deutsches Rechtswörterbuch


The comprehensive Dictionary of historical German (and West Germanic) Legal Language explains and illustrates legally relevant vocabulary from the beginning of German written tradition (around AD 400) to 1815. Its basis is formed by an archive of roughly 2.5 million word quotations.

A volume of the Dictionary comprises 5 double fascicles of 320 columns each. The fascicles appear on a yearly basis. In addition to specifically legal terminology such as e.g. “Anwalt” (solicitor, barrister), “Miete” (payment; rent) or “Paraphernalgut” (paraphernalia, a wife’s personal property not transferred to her husband at marriage), the Dictionary of Historical German Legal Terms also describes daily legal practices as reflected in words such as “Acker” (acre), “Deichbank” (a kind of dyke alliance), “Gichtzettel” (medical report), “Kuss” (kiss), “melken” (to milk), “missverstehen” (to misunderstand), “Nachbarschaft” (neighbourhood) or “pfleglich” (usual; careful), demonstrating the specific legal aspect of many general language words.

The project was founded in 1897 by the Prussian Academy of Sciences and, since 1959, has been supervised by the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.


  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Deutsch (Project Leader)
Running time
Project type

Responsible for the academies' programme

Sebastian Zwies M.A.

Geschäftsstelle Mainz
Union der deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften
Geschwister-Scholl-Straße 2
55131 Mainz

Tel: 06131/218 528-17