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You are here : Institutions Office of the Sinhala Dictionary

Sinhala Dictionary Office

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Historical Background

The disadvantage of non-availability of a Dictionary for the Sinhala Language in its alphabetical order was first pointed out by two British Scholars who visited Sri Lanka during the last two decades of the 19th century. Even previous to this with the inauguration of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society in 1845, there was a much interest in studying the Sinhala Language and Culture. Hence more and more foreign scholars carried out numerous explorations in various sections in this field.

Mr. Charles Bruce who was the Director of Education in Cyelon in 1881 paid his attention to this necessity. Subsequently in 1884 Mr. Reinhold Rost, the Indian librarian in London submitted a memorandum to Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society on the urgency of fulfilling this need.

In the same year at a meeting of the abovementioned society headed by the governor of Ceylon,  A committee was appointed to make recommendations as to now the Dictionary should be compiled. However that didn’t work out.

After a lapse of about forty years Mudhiyar. A. Mendis Gunasekara sent a reminder on the matter to the Director of Education who referred it to the Royal Asiatic Society. The Society appointed a committee headed by Mr. R. Marrs, Head of the University College, Colombo (1923). A decision was taken (1926) to compile a Sinhala Dictionary following the scientific  methodology. According to the report submitted in 1925.

Commencement of the Dictionary

Subsequently compilation of the Dictionary was commenced in March 1927 with the patronage of the government while Mr. D.B.Jayathilake, Mudliyar A.Mendis Gunasekara & W.F Gunawardahana were appointed as the editor & sub-editors respectively by the Royal Asiatic Society. Further German Pro.Wilhelm Geiger was appointed as the director of the editors’ board. The committee board was appointed by Mr.L.J.B Turner with his chairmanship.

Projects & the Progress

Initially it was driven on two missions to compile a Sinhala Dictionary with English interpretation (Sinhala – English) & a Sinhala Dictionary with Sinhala interpretation (Sinhala- Sinhala). The 1st volume of the Sinhala – English Dictionary was published in 1935 after spending few years on formulation of the required resources. But the work progress was not as expected due to several reasons.

Later the administration of the Dictionary  Office was handed over to the Ceylon University by the Royal Asiatic Society in 1942. Subsequently its administration was entrusted to the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 1972.

Following erudite Scholars worked respectively as the Chief Editor who are Prof. D.E. Hettiarachchi, Julius De Lanarale, Dr. P.B.F. Wijeratne, Prof. D.J. Wijeratne (Co. Chief Editor), Dr. P.B. Sannasgala, Prof. Wimal G. Balagalle, Prof. Vini Vitharana and Prof. Ananda Abeysiriwardhana, Dr. Ven. Akuratiye Nanda Thero  is the Chief Editor at present.

With the decision taken by Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 1975, which were formulated to expedite the completion of the Sinhala- Sinhala Dictionary since it was given the priority rather than issuing the volumes of the Sinhala- Sinhala & Sinhala – English Dictionaries. In 1982 the work were further accelerated and eventually a comprehensive Sinhala Dictionary was able to be published in April 1995 with 26 volumes.

With the publication of the 2nd edition of the Sinhal- Sinhala Dictionary; Steps were taken to launch its re-amended 2nd edition with new headwords. Since then  5 volumes were successively issued.

Further delayed works are being done and  25th, 26th ,27th parts of Sinhala- English Dictionary have already been published

Size of the Sinhala- Sinhala Dictionary

The completed Sinhala – Sinhala dictionary is consisted of 13.908 large pages with 2.06,692 headwords for interpretations

Concise Sinhala Dictionary

Due to the incapability of personally possessing for personal usage by mass though it’s comprehensive due to its huge dimensions, a new concise edition with 1000 pages in two volumes were published in 1999 under the guidance of Ministry of Cultural Affairs for the easy utility of the general subscribers, editors, teachers & students

Sinhala-English-Tamil Dictionary

Taking the contemporary requirements into consideration a formation of Sinhala-English- Tamil Dictionary was begun in 2002. Its first edition inspection of Sinhala, English and Tamil have been finished. Printing will be done after of its inspections & computerization


Sinhala Dictionary Office website :-

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 December 2013 04:15 )