What software do lexicographers use these days to manage and search corpora? Is there a standard solution used by most people, or does every dictionary commission their own software to suit their own needs?

I struggle to find anything online in this regard, which leads me to believe that a bunch of really arcane software is being used :)

p.s. - I'm not sure whether this actually belongs here. Please let me know if this belongs to a different SE site?

2 Answers 2


If I'm remembering correctly, according to Atkins and Rundell (2008) [1], many projects build their own software, but there are also commercial packages such as TshwaneLex (http://tshwanedje.com/tshwanelex/).

Atkins and Rundell (2008) go into some detail about the requirements of such software, so you may find their book helpful. They mention that there are two types of software which are needed for any lexicography project: what they call a Corpus Query System (CQS) and what they call a Dictionary Writing System (DWS). The point of a CQS is to access evidence on the basis of which dictionary entries can be written; in that sense, their needs are very similar to those of standard corpus linguistic software* (which include the ability to draw up concordances, as well as other features). The point of the DWS is to offer an interface for generating and storing what will make up the content of the dictionary.

[1] Atkins, B.T. Sue and Michael Rundell (2008) The Oxford Guide to Practical Lexicography.

*an example of corpus linguistic software is AntConc, which is free, though probably not powerful enough for a lexicography project. You can see a list of commonly used corpus linguistics software here: http://www.corpora4learning.net/resources/materials.html#5.

  • For a recent review of the state of development of corpus linguistic software, see Anthony, L. (2013). A critical look at software tools in corpus linguistics. Linguistic Research, 30(2), 141-161. Chicago, available here: pdfs.semanticscholar.org/61f1/….
    – ATJ
    Mar 7, 2017 at 12:17
  • Note that another relevant thread on linguistics.stackexchange is this question, where the answer also discusses software requirements for lexicography.
    – ATJ
    Mar 7, 2017 at 13:52
  • 1
    Amongst descriptivist linguists that I work with, Toolbox and FLEx are the most commonly used tools for this work. Mar 10, 2017 at 2:10

A software programme you can also use is WordSmith Tools: http://www.lexically.net/wordsmith/version6/index.html

This website has a list of software that can be useful for linguistics: http://linguistlist.org/sp/GetWRListings.cfm?WRAbbrev=Software There are multiple programmes listed for corpora exploration, which probably also includes freeware.

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