The Lumber Room

"Consign them to dust and damp by way of preserving them"

Kannada dictionary online

with 13 comments

The absence of a Kannada dictionary online has been a source of pain for a while (unlike Sanskrit dictionaries). Mohan pointed me to the one at with the warning that it is very slow. He also found that the Internet Archive has a scanned copy of the Kittel dictionary (A Kannada-English school-dictionary : chiefly based on the labours of the Rev. Dr. F. Kittel, by the Rev. J. Bucher (1899)). This is actually a fairly good dictionary and could serve most common purposes. Until someone digitizes it and puts it online (this version at least is out of copyright), we will have to make do with looking up words in this scanned copy. To make it easier to find the right page, below is an “index” to the dictionary. Look down the second column in the table below to find the approximate position of the word you want, then click on the corresponding link in the left column. The gap between successive entries is at most 10 pages, so you should be able to find any word with a click and at most 3 page flips. a        aDasatte        annu        artha A i I u        ura U, R RR, lR, lRR, e E ai o O au M H k        kampu        kAruNya        kusaku        kollAra kh g        gillA gh, G, c        citra ch, j        jIva jh, J, T Th, D Dh, N t        tAmbUla        tETu th, d        dumuku dh n        nikAya        neTTage p        parihAsa        punarnava        prabOdha ph b        bANali        bese bh m        marasuttu        mIru        mEle y r [?] l v        vidyamAna z S s        sambALisu        siddhAnta        sthAyi h        hiDi        hore L, [?]
Note: Pages 262–3 are missing, so from there on, printed page = 2 + number in link

Future work:

  • Extend this data to all pages in the dictionary (around 454/2 = 227)
  • Write a web interface where you can type a word/prefix and be taken to the exact page

Feel free to take it up.

Written by S

Mon, 2012-04-30 at 00:26:10 +05:30

13 Responses

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  1. Nice work.
    a. Would OCR ing the document be a better idea?
    b. Also, Kittel’s work is dated. Keeping aside the copyright issues away for a while, a better idea will be to do the same for the massive 8 volume nighantus written by venkatasubbayya and others.
    c. Meanwhile. would it be a better idea to put this project onto a more colloborative platform like google code?
    some links that may help:


    Mon, 2012-04-30 at 19:10:48 +05:30

    • Thanks.

      a. Yes, OCR would be great! The downside is that OCR is unreliable enough that one has to basically examine and verify the entire document (even 95% accuracy, which I doubt has been achieved for Kannada, would mean a mistake every 20 words on average), so it needs to be taken up by someone who has more perseverance and would welcome the opportunity to read an entire dictionary. :-)

      b. Yes, bigger modern dictionaries would be great. But I think copyright is still a big deal, and it would be hard to get something like G. Venkatasubbayya’s dictionary online. Also, this Kittel’s dictionary is not bad at all — it is significantly better than other dictionaries of the same size. My friend estimated that it has about 20000 words, and I find that words that I have looked up dictionaries for, I have been more likely to find in this dictionary than in another one we have at home. Of course it may be that I’ve been more likely to look up old words. :-)

      c. Definitely agree on putting it somewhere so others can contribute… will do so soon.

      Thanks a lot for your links to the other dictionaries; it’s really great! I don’t know how the Baraha website managed to get those dictionaries online!


      Mon, 2012-04-30 at 19:38:04 +05:30

      • Dear shreevatsa,
        Responses in order:

        a. Yes, after OCR process we would still require to go through and verify the entire dictionary. We will have to delete the word the word that was recognized wrong and add the correct word that was recognized wrong. Still, OCR ing will bring down the amount of time significantly.

        b. Ok, lets start with public domain kittel’s dictionary. If we are lucky enough to get our hands to nighantu’s code (which I suspect is written using nudi), we could easily use it and further use hallimane’s code ascii to unicode if required. (
        What kind of ascii format are you using in the second column of the above table? (looks close to baraha to me)
        (you may contact me by email too)


        Mon, 2012-04-30 at 21:44:54 +05:30

    • One more addition here:
      I primarily use this for app/site translation in kannada.

  2. Case study time! For a recent blog post, I was looking up the following words: gaDaNe , ghaasi, sRjisu (amazing, it had the nuanced secondary meaning (“to let go”) that KV implies!), ANe, TaMka, hoge (v), kENa, more (v), neravi, bEge and kILANe. I could find EVERY one of them except kILANe (which I think is a later, erratic substitution anyway; what was Kumaravyasa doing talking about ‘aaNes’ as currency, did they not come because of the British Annas?), and that too within 1-2 clicks. This + MW can get me through KVB, and I could hardly ask more from a dictionary!

    My only complaint is that on the website with the default two-page view the font is too small to read properly, and the vertical scrolling is a bit clunky there. This is of course solved by downloading the PDF.


    Wed, 2012-05-02 at 04:24:46 +05:30

    • “My only complaint is that on the website with the default two-page view the font is too small to read properly, and the vertical scrolling is a bit clunky there.”

      — Pulling unprocessed images from is always a pain. I am thinking of storing the processed image and calling the required page via a javascript code.

  3. Oh this is useful. If you run an OCR on it and it works, please let me know – it would be great to have a Kannada lexicon. Unfortunately, I can only speak and understand Kannada and cant read and write it, so I wouldn’t be able to verify OCR output, but if there’s any other way I can help, please let me know! Very interested in building Speech/NLP systems for Indian languages. ssitaram at cmu edu


    Sat, 2012-05-19 at 02:44:43 +05:30

  4. Can you say me how to download the first dictionary


    Mon, 2014-08-25 at 21:26:53 +05:30

    • Which one do you mean by “the first dictionary”?‌ Some of these are only available online (cannot be downloaded)… for the one on you can download the whole book of course.


      Mon, 2014-08-25 at 21:28:56 +05:30

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