Using Italian dictionaries, I have noticed that dated/archaic words are marked with different categories, and there are no explanations regarding any semantic differences.

For instance, Lo Zingarelli has three kinds of markings: 1. ant. (antico), 2. disus. (disusato), 3. † (parola o accezione arcaica). These are the explanations given in the preface to the dictionary. Browsing Lo Zingarelli, I can find the ant. note only in etymological explanations:

accapigliàrsi [comp. di a- (2) e capegli, forma ant. di capelli ☼ 1266]

assìṣa [ant. fr. assise ‘uniforme’, da asseoir ‘stabilire’, dal lat. parl. *assedēre, per il classico assidēre ☼ 1308]

The other two are found directly in word explanations. For instance:

àbaco 3 (disus.) arte del calcolo, aritmetica

accòllo 2 (disus.) appalto


riconoscènza 2 rimorso

indirìzzo 4 avviamento | impostazione

Furthermore, other dictionaries even do not provide a complete list of abbreviations. But from what I noticed, I can say the the Grande Dizionario Italiano by Gabrielli Aldo has only one kind of category, namely ant. (antico):

riconoscenza 2 ant. Riconoscimento, consapevolezza

Otherwise the Grande Dizionario Italiano may use other notes where Lo Zingarelli uses disus. (disusato):

accollo ‖ raro Appalto

Treccani seems to use ant. (antico) only as well:

riconoscènza 2. ant. Riconoscimento, consapevolezza

But in Treccani's Sinonimi e Contrari disus. (disusato) is used frequently:

pastrano s. m. (ant. pastrana s. f.) [prob. dal nome di un duca di Pastrana (città della prov. sp. di Guadalajara)], disus. - (abbigl.) [pesante indumento invernale per uomo, da portare sopra altri vestiti] ≈ cappotto, (disus.)

Finally, in il Sabatini Coletti, only ant. (antico) seems to be used as well:

infingardo 2 ant. Bugiardo, falso

To summarize it all, I can state that there are noticeable differences between the dated and archaic categories in English dictionaries. As Oxford puts it:

Archaic Words and expressions described as archaic are those which haven't been in everyday use for a century or more... You are unlikely to hear anyone using these terms in everyday conversation, or to come across them in modern writing, but you will encounter them in the literature of the past.

Dated Words and expressions described as dated may still be used occasionally, especially by older people, but they are no longer used by most English speakers.

I suppose that this kind of difference might also exist in Italian dictionaries. Otherwise, probably disus. is used for historical names of objects which are no longer in use (but in the case of abaco as arithmetic, we can hardly speak of objects no longer in use: the designation itself seems to be disusato).

It is still unclear however, why disus. and † coexist in Lo Zingarelli, and whether they are both combined into ant. in other dictionaries.

So, my question is: how are these different markings interconnected in different dictionaries and which specific differences exist between them?

  • 2
    This is not an answer (even though it might be included in one), but you might find it interesting to have a look at the descriptions of the marche d'uso in the dictionary directed by Tullio De Mauro, who was very meticulous about these aspects of lexicography: You might be interested especially in the LE, BU and OB markers. – DaG Aug 8 at 21:00

In the recent Phd thesis of Maurizio N. Barbi (in Italian)

Neologismi e neosemie nel vocabolario Zingarelli: un confronto sincronico tra la Decima edizione (1970) e la ristampa della Dodicesima edizione (2015)

there are many useful explanations about the usage of markings in Lo Zingarelli. The paper also cites many other sources that studied the use and evolution of such markings.

To summarize, the marking

disusato (disus.), riferito a lemmi «caduti in disuso ma non arcaici»

refers to terms that are not currently used, but yet cannot be defined as archaic. These terms still have a correct meaning for most of contemporay Italians, while † (arcaico) or ant. (antico) currently might not be understood or might be associated with a wrong meaning.

Please also consider that Lo Zingarelli tends to introduce new markings and also to change their meaning or scope with the evolution of society and linguistic expression (Cannella, M. (2010). Idee per diventare lessicografo. Bologna: Zanichelli). So the marking for a certain term might vary with time.

  • Welcome to Italian.SE! – Charo Aug 10 at 12:49
  • Thanks for the answer. The only thing that embarrasses me is why the other Italian dictionaries do not do it in the same manner as the Zingarelli does, and are using only antico as a marking for both dated and archaic words (based on my own comparison of articles from the Zingarelli and Treccani, Sabatini Coletti, Garzanti, Hoepli (Aldo)). I mean that the Zingarelli's model is quite understandable and provides for the required differentiation. But the work with other dictionaries requires me using only my intuition (and the dates of their quotations) as a clue. – Eddy V. Aug 11 at 7:16

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