ADJAdjectival Participle
3pn + dat.Verb is marked for third person; semantic subject is in dative case
AVPAdverbial Participle
trtransitive verb
irreg.iregular form
def.defective form
intrintransitive verb
HS99 (number)Cf. Schiffman 1999, section indicated


From the preface pages by the authors:

This dictionary was undertaken because of a number of needs that were not being met by existing or previously-extant English-Tamil dictionaries. The main goal of this dictionary is to get an English-knowing user to a Tamil verb, irrespective of whether he or she begins with an English verb or some other item, such as an adjective; this is because what may be a verb in Tamil may in fact not be a verb in English, and vice versa. The web and DVD versions of this dictionary are searchable, so that if a particular English verb the user wants a Tamil equivalent for is not one of the main entries, inputting the search item should take the user to the English synonym file, which will give the user the Tamil verb. For example, we do not have a main entry for ‘pounce’, but this item does appear as a synonym for ‘jump, leap’, and some other verbs, so searching for ‘pounce’ will get the user to a Tamil verb. Our original conception was therefore to specifically concentrate on supplying the kinds of information lacking in all previous attempts at capturing the equivalencies between English and Tamil. In particular we have focused on the following problematical areas:

  1. Verb classes: English-Tamil dictionaries, both current and previously extant, do not provide the user with any information about the morphological class of the Tamil verb, nor do they give information as to whether a verb is transitive or intransitive. This kind of information is readily available in Tamil-English dictionaries (for example, in Fabricius 1972), but not in English-Tamil dictionaries.
  2. Spoken Tamil: No English-Tamil dictionaries give information about the spoken or colloquial pronunciation of Tamil, or whether a verb found in Literary Tamil is also used in spoken Tamil. Information about spoken Tamil is harder to get than Tamil in any other form, since no electronic databases exist for ST, and because many speakers of Tamil do not consider ST to be worth devoting any attention to; for non-Tamils attempting to learn Tamil, however, ST is necessary for day-to-day functioning in a Tamil environment, and this dictionary is intended to meet their needs, not primarily the needs of Tamil speakers.
  3. Example Sentences: Currently extant English-Tamil dictionaries give few if any example sentences illustrating the morphological and/or syntactic frames that verbs occur in.
  4. Modern Usage: Most extant English-Tamil dictionaries are now seriously out of date, since their compilers have often simply replicated the data found in previous dictionaries, with the result that the English represented in them is that of the 18th or 19th centuries; the Tamil forms given are also lacking in modernity, but for other reasons.
  5. Syntactic Complexity of the Verb Phrase: Because the Tamil verb is morphologically complex, and the verb phrase therefore syntactically verry complex, we decided to focus only on the Tamil verb. Tamil nouns, are in contrast, morphologically fairly simple and the noun phrase is remarkably uncomplicated—Tamil nouns have no gender distinctions (except where there is biological gender), no agreement, and no marking of adjectives as to number or gender. The Tamilnadu government has spent much time and energy creating lexica and glossaries for various modern usages for Tamil, but from what we can gather, these have mainly generated new nominal terminology, not verbs. This is partly because Literary Tamil cannot borrow verbs easily, i.e. it cannot take a ‘foreign’ word and add Tamil morphological material to it, such as tense marking and person-number-gender marking, which all Tamil finite verbs must have. (Spoken Tamil has no problem with borrowings or other innovative word-formation devices, but ST, is, as already mentioned, not deemed worthy of being used in such contexts.)

The reasons for the above deficiencies have to do with the goal of such previous dictionaries. Most have been conceived as being primarily for the use of speakers of Tamil who wished to know or use English effectively, rather than the opposite. Tamil speakers of course already know intuitively (though not explicitly) the verb class and transitivity status of Tamil verbs, and how to use them in sentences. They also know spoken Tamil usage by virtue of having learned it as a first language, and do not need to be taught anything about it. They also use English primarily in its written form, with the result that modern British or American colloquial usage receives short shrift. This dictionary attempts to correct these shortcomings by providing verb-class and transitivity status for all Tamil entries, by giving examples of Tamil usage and their English equivalents in sentence-frames, and by providing spoken pronunciation and examples whenever a Literary Tamil form has a spoken equivalent. Sometimes these are not at all historically cognate—when a Tamil verb like கூறு II tr. is rendered in spoken Tamil, it must be replaced by சொல்லு III tr. sollu, since no Tamil speaker would ever produce a spoken equivalent of கூறு *kuuru in his or her colloquial speech. As for English equivalents and translations of example sentences, we have tried to stay close to modern colloquial North American usage, which means that certain rare or archaic verbs that would be found in an English dictionary, such as ‘malt’ or ‘smite’ will not appear. We also give ‘informal’ equivalents as synonyms in some cases, and these are marked as ‘inf.’—such forms as ‘be blown away’ or ‘diss’ that may not even appear in English dictionaries yet. This also means that the English translation of the example sentences may not be a ‘word-for-word’ or literal translation of the Tamil, but rather a colloquial equivalent that captures the overall meaning.

Read all the introductory chapters here.