The Scottish language is being lost every day, and in a short time will become quite unintelligible. […] To me, who have the true patriotic soul of an old Scotsman, that would seem a pity.
(Boswell in Holland, p. 161)

Welcome to the website and blog of the Boswell’s Scottish Dictionary project, which was launched in March 2011, following the rediscovery of Boswell’s draft dictionary materials. This project will be providing initial transcriptions of the manuscript, as well as  information on its provenance, and commentary on the Scots words and phrases it contains. The site also gives an overview of Boswell’s plan for his dictionary, as outlined in his letters and journals. The content of the site will be continually updated as the project progresses.

My eventual aim is to produce a complete edition of Boswell’s dictionary, either printed or digital. In the meantime, this site is intended to alert lexicographers, linguists, and Boswellian scholars to the existence of the manuscript, and to those parts of its content which may assist their own researches.

I would be delighted to receive any comments, suggestions, or pieces of information relating to Boswell’s Scottish dictionary. Please email me at the address below, or leave a comment on the homepage. Thank you.

Dr Susan Rennie


In the short time that this project has been in existence, I have already received invaluable help from a number of scholars. In particular, I would like to thank Dr William Zachs in Edinburgh, and Dr Gordon Turnbull, General Editor of the Yale Editions of the Private Papers of James Boswell, for their expert advice, both in confirming the authorship of the manuscript, and in continuing to offer suggestions on its content and provenance. I am also grateful to the Bodleian Library for permission to publish transcriptions and images of the manuscript.