Tibetan Print Dictionaries

General Use

  • Bkra shis Tshe ring & Li’u te cu, 扎西次仁 & 刘德军, eds. English-Tibetan-Chinese dictionary = Dbyin Bod Rgya gsum shan sbyar gyi tshig mdzod. 英藏汉对照词. Beijing: Min zu chu ban she: Xin hua shu dian jing xiao, 1988.
        Useful for reverse look-up.
  • Dpal ldan bkra shis, ed. Bod Dbyin tshig mdzod = Tibetan-English dictionary. Gansu : Gansu Nationalities Press, 1999.  Written in Amdo, so may contain dialect terms.
  • Dung dkar Blo bzang 'phrin las. Mkhas dbang Dung dkar Blo bzang 'phrin las mchog gis mdzad pa'i Bod rig pa'i tshig mdzod chen mo shes bya rab gsal = Dung dkar tshig mdzod. English colophon title: Dungkar Tibetological great dictionary. Pe cin: Krung go'i Bod rig pa'i dpe skrun khang, 2002.  Provides the most comprehensive list of important Tibetan terms relating to Tibetan history, literature, religion,  culture, place, and historical figures with clear definition, explanation, and citation of the sources.  (Entry added by Dorjee Tsetan.)

Historic Dictionaries

(published in the late 19th- early 20th centuries or in various locales)

  • Csomo de Körös, Alexander. Essay towards a dictionary, Tibetan and English. Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press. 1834. Organized by first Tibetan letter (not root letter).
        Created in Ladakh (and possibly also Sikkim).
  • Jäschke, H. A Tibetan-English Dictionary, with special reference to the prevailing dialects (to which is added an English-Tibetan vocabulary). London. 1881.
        Created in Ladakh.
  • Desgodins, Auguste. Dictionnaire thibetain-latin-français. 1899.
    Work started in 1852 in Kham (near Batang), sent for typesetting in Hong Kong in 1894. (e-book in HathiTrust)
  • Sarat Chandra Das. A Tibetan-English Dictionary, with Sanskrit Synonyms. Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot. 1902. (print and e-book)  Entry added by Ling-wei Kung.
  • Lama Dawasamdup Kazi (Zla-ba-bsam-'grub, Kazi; 1868-1922). An English-Tibetan dictionary, containing a vocabulary of approximately twenty thousand words with their Tibetan equivalents. Calcutta, The University, 1919. (print and e-book)
  • Charles A. Bell. English Tibetan colloquial dictionary. 1920. (print and e-book)
  • Zhang Xu [=Zhang Yisun], Zang Han jilun cihui. Hong Kong: Xichui wenhua yuan, 1937. EASTASIA SPECIAL COLL PL3637.C5 Z44 1937; 2012 reprint. Scanned version available at TBRC.
    Glossary based on work started 1928 in Sichuan, this became the basis for the Bod Rgya tshig mdzod chen mo =Zang Han da ci dian (1985).
  • Zhang Xu [=Zhang Yisun]. Han Zang yu hui. Chengdu: Xichui wenhua yuan, 1938. Early bilingual glossary. EASTASIA SPECIAL COLL PL3637.C5 C44 1938 Scanned version available at TBRC.
  • Zhang Xu [=Zhang Yisun]. Zang Han yim ing da ci hui. [Chengdu]: Xichui wenhua yuan, 1939. First real Tibetan-Chinese dictionary. EAST ASIA SPECIAL COLL PL3637.C5 T5 1930. Scanned version available at TBRC.
  • Chos kyi grags pa. Dge bshes Chos kyi grags pas btsams pa'i brda dag ming tshig gsal ba = Gexi Quzha Zangwen cidian: Zang, Han duizhao. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang/ Minzu chubanshe, 1995 [1949]. 

Compiled by a Buryat Mongol in 1946. This dictionary is based on a 1949 edition of the Lhasa Hor-khang woodblock with added explanations in Chinese. The first formal publication was published in December, 1957. The current edition is published in 1995 with proper corrections and additional features, such as categories, synonyms, etc. It is said that the editors also deleted ‘unrelated’ words from the original copy. However, the translations for most Buddhist terms remain the same. Notes by ZHU Runxiao.


  • Minoru Gō, ed. An Eastern Tibetan dictionary (revised) and A study of the Eastern Tibetan language, with special reference to the initial consonants. Okayama, Japan, 1954 [1943].
        Based on work done in Amdo. PL3636 .G6
  • Ngag dbang chos dar [Awang Quetaier]. A-mdo'i kha skad tshig mdzod = A duo kuoyu cihui. Lanzhou, 1980.
  • Hua Kan, Long Bojia, ed. Bod Rgya shan sbyar gyi A-mdo'i kha skad tshig mdzod = Anduo Zang yu kou yu ci dian. Lanzhou: Gansu min zu chu ban she, 1993. PL3651.A6 H82 1993
  • Lhun grub rdo rje. A-mdo'i kha skad tshig mdzod = Anduo Zang yu kou yu ci dian= Amdo Tibetan Spoken Language Dictionary with Chinese and English Translation. Lanzhou, 2007. PL3651.A64 A43

Tibetan Specialty Dictionaries

Abbreviated Words

  • Rnam rgyal tshe ring. Bod yig skung yig phyogs sgrig. Chengdu: Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1994. BQ133.M47 1988
        Pocket guide to dbus med abbreviations. Essential for reading manuscripts.
  • Shes rab, ed. Skung yig gsal byed nor bu'i me long. Pe-cin: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2003.
        Much more extensive guide to dbus med abbreviations. Essential for reading manuscripts.

Administration and Law

  • Gling dbon Padma skal bzang. De snga'i Bod sa gnas srid gzhung gi gzhung yig thog gi tha snyad spyod srol dang 'brel yod phyogs bsdus gsal 'grel. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2011.  PL3639 .P33 2011

A list of Tibetan terms for offices, positions, laws, etc. used during the Ganden Phodrang administration.

  • Legal dictionary =Khrims kyi tshig mdzod. Thimphu: Zhib ʼtshol Yig tshang, Che mthoʼi khrims kyi ʼdun sa, 2007.   K52.D98 L44 2007   Entry added by Tendrol.


  • Bod Rgya skar rtsis rig paʾi tshig mdzod = Zang Han lisuan xue cidian / "Zang Han da cidian" bianxie zu. Chengdu : Si-khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1985.  BF1714.T53 B63 1985
    Tibetan-Chinese terminology on Tibetan astrology. (Entry added by Tracy Howard.)

Food & Drink

  • Tshan chung (ed). Bod kyi nyer mkho' zas rigs tshig mdzod = Zang zu chang yong yin shi ci dian = Tibetan traditional food and drink dictionary. Zi-liṅ: Mtsho sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2000.


  • Tshe dbang rnam rgyal. Dag yig ma nor lam bzang/ Zang wen tong yin zi dian. Pe cin: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1997. 
        Particularly useful for interpreting misspelled words.


  • Rdo dgon gsang bdag rdo rje and Lhun par bstan ‘dzin lha ‘dzoms. Zhe sa’i lag deb blo gsar dga’ ston. Lhasa: Bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang, 2002.
        Organized by literary Tibetan words (yig skad). Includes translations in table format for colloquial Tibetan (kha skad), honorific form (zhe sa), Chinese, and English.  Also includes the following appendices: 1) Example sentences in Tibetan, but organized by English words; and  2)  “A Brief Explanation of the Use of Honorific Address for Persons of Different Rank,” in Tibetan and English.


  • Dpa’ ris Sangs rgyas. Dpe chos tshig mdzod. Xining: Mtsho sngon mi rigs dpe skrun khang. 1999. 336 pages. PL3639.D73 1999

Tibetan-Tibetan dictionary of Tibetan idioms and phrases. (Entry added by Sonam Tsering.)


  • Pasang Yoten. Dictionary of Tibetan Materia Medica. Motilal Banarsidas Publishers, 1998.
  • Tshe ring thag gcod & Tshe ring sgrol ma Drung ttsho (Tsering Thackchoe & Tsering Dolma Drungtso). Bod lugs sman rtsis kyi tshig mdzod Bod Dbyin shan sbyar. = Tibetan-English dictionary of Tibetan medicine and astrology. Dharamsala : Drungtso Publisher, 1999.
  • See also Bod Sog Rgya gsum gyi shan sbyar tshig mdzod chen mo (below.)

Names, People and Places

  • Dictionary of Common Tibetan Personal and Place Names = Chang jian Zang yu ren ming di ming ci dian (Beijing, 2004). PL1483 .C35 2004

Poetic Synonyms

  • Palkhang Lotsawa ; edited by G. Tharchin. Snyan ngag, 'dod pa blo gsal gzhon nu rnams la nye bar mkho ba mngon brjod pad dkar 'phreng ba: Śabdavidya = A collection of synonyms. Kalimpong : Tharchin, 1961.
  • Ngag dbang tshul khrims, Btsan lha. Brda dkrol gser gyi me long. Pe-cin : Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1997. Ref: PL3635 .B73 1997
    Note by Dan Martin: "Bstan-lha's is the very best thing there is for 12th-century vocabulary, among other things. Its strength is that it combines hundreds of glossary texts of all periods into one handy alphabetized dictionary. But it generally isn't much help with Amarakosha-type, which is to say Abhidhana[mngon-brjod]-type, poetic vocabulary." [See next entry for his recommendation.]
  • Rnam rgyal tshe ring. Bod yig mngon brjod gcig shes kun grol. Lanzhou: Kan su'u mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1991.
    Note by Dan Martin: "There is nothing better than this for Abhidhana[mngon-brjod]-type, poetic vocabulary." This dictionary may thus also be helpful for understanding the poetic titles of works. Ref: PL3633 .B63 1991


  • Li yung khrang (Li Yingchang), ed. Bya tshig gtsig mdzod = Zangwen dongci cidian [Tibetan Verbs Dictionary]. Beijing: Mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1988 [1993]. Ref: PL3637.T52 B93 1988b
  • Hackett, Paul G. Tibetan verb lexicon : verbs, classes, and syntactic frames. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications, 2003. Ref: PL3612 .H33 2003

Buddhist Terminology

  • Bod Rgya nang don rig pa'i tshig mdzod. Chengdu: Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang. 1993. Ref: BQ130 .B63 1993.
  • Geshe Thubten Samdup (a.k.a Gomde Lharampa). Mdo sngags gzhung chen mo’i tshig mdzod ris med mkhas pa’i zhal lung. Dharamsala: Bod gzhung shes rig par khang. 2005. 786+vi pages.

The entries in this dictionary, compiled from 1998 to 2002, are largely drawn from the Tibetan Buddhist canon and various collected works (gsung 'bum). Works of scholars cited include [Geluk:] Tsong kha pa, Rgyal tshab rje, Mkhas grub rje, Dge ’dun grub, Gnyal ston dpal ’byor lhun grub, Rje btsun chos kyi rgyal mtshan, PaN chen blo bzang chos rgyan, Lcang skya ngag dbang chos ldan, Thu’u bkwan blo bzang chos kyi nyi ma, Dngul chu dharma bhadra, Dge ’dun chos ’phel, [Kagyud:] Dwags po lha rje, [3rd, 8th, and 9th] Karma pa, ’Gos lo tswa ba gzhon nu dpal, Dwags po bkra shis rnam rgyal, Dpa’ bpo gtsug lag phreng ba, ’Jam mgon kong sprul blo gros mtha’ yas; [Nyingma:] Guru Padmasambhava, Klong chen rab ’byams, Kun mkhyen ’jigs med gling pa, ’Ju mi pham, Rdza dpal sprul, [Sakya:] Bu ston thams cad mkhyen pa, Sa skya paNdita, G.yag ston sangs rgyas dpal, and others. Geshe Thupten Samdup, began his monastic education in 1972 at Sera Jey Monastery and has taught Buddhism for over three decades in India and abroad. (Entry added by Sonam Tsering.)   

  • Tsepak Rigzin. Nang don rig pa'i ming tshig Bod Dbyin shan sbyar = Tibetan-English dictionary of Buddhist terminology. Dharamsala : Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1993. Ref: BQ130 .R5411 1993

Compiled on the basis of Sanskrit-English dictionaries, and in consultation with many Gelukpa teachers. (Information provided by Qi Qian.)

  • Ma Xueren. Han Zang dui zhao Fo xue ci dian 汉藏对照佛学词典 . Lanzhou: Gansu min zu chu ban she, 2000. 909 pages. Ref: BQ130 .H28 2000

Chinese-Tibetan dictionary of Buddhist terms.

  • Wang Yinuan王沂暖. Fo xue ci dian 佛学词典 = Saṅs-rgyas chos gzhung gi tshig mdzod. Xining: Qinghai min zu chu ban she, 1992. 915 pages. Ref: BQ130 .S26 1992

Chinese-Tibetan dictionary of Buddhist terms.

  • Wang Yinuan and ’Jam dpal phun tshogs. Zang Han fo xue ci dian 藏汉佛学词典 = Bod Rgya Sangs rgyas chos gzhung gi tshig mdzod. Xining: Qinghai min zu chu ban she, 1986 (reprint: 1988). 534 pages. BQ130.T74 1986

Tibetan-Chinese Dictionary of Buddhist Terms.

  • Mgon po dbang rgyal. Chos kyi rnam grangs. Chengdu: Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1988. 562 pages. Ref: BQ133 .M47 1988

Buddhist terminology on various aspects of Buddhism arranged in numerical enumeration (the two XX, the three XX, and so forth).

  • Jorigtu, ed. Han Zang Meng dui zhao fo jiao ci dian 汉藏蒙对照佛敎词典. Beijing: Min zu chu ban she, 2003, 1210 pages.  Book on order at Columbia.  OCLC WorldCat #56348122.

Arranged by Chinese characters, with equivalents in Tibetan, Mongolian and Sanskirt. (Entry added by Ling-wei Kung.)

  • Thumurchitur, ed. Bod Sog Rgya gsum gyi shan sbyar tshig mdzod chen mo = Zang Meng Han dui zhao da ci dian 藏蒙汉对照大辞典. Shenyang: Liaoning min zu chu ban she, 2001, 1788 pages. OCLC WorldCat #54809399; see also #64035592.

Trilingual dictionary  arranged by Tibetan alphabetical order, with equivalents in Chinese and Mongolian. Primarily Buddhist and medical vocabulary. (Entry added by Ling-wei Kung.)

  • Thub btsan nyi ma and Zhao wu han. Bod Rgya tshad ma rig pa’i tshig mdzod (, Zang han luo ji xue ci dian 藏汉逻輯学伺典, Chengdu: Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 1987. 340 pages. BC25 .B64 1987

Tibetan-Chinese Dictionary of Buddhist Logic terminology. Tibetan entries and definitions were compiled by Thub bstan nyi ma and Chinese equivalents were furnished by Zhao Wuhan. Arranged alphabetically and drawn primarily from Bod Rgya tshig mdzod chen mo (Zang Han da ci dian) while definitions and classifications were based on various texts including Tshad ma rig gter, Blo rigs, Rtags rigs, Bsdus grwa, and Tshad ma la 'jug pa’i sgo. (Entry added by Sonam Tsering.)