The Italian Dictionary (OVI-Opera del Vocabolario Italiano) is an Institute of the C.N.R. with the institutional task of compiling an historical dictionary of the Italian language. At present the researchers of the OVI are working on the first section of this dictionary, called Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini (TLIO), i.e. "Thesaurus of the oldest Italian language".
The main characteristic of the OVI is the identification of the Institute with its task of making an historical Italian dictionary, which is the pivot around which all the other activities revolve.
The present-day activity of the OVI is the continuation of a project started by the Accademia della Crusca in 1965 with funding from the C.N.R. This project, a new historical dictionary of Italian, was to be the heir of the glorious "Vocabolario degli Accademici", but with the difference of not being prescriptive (i.e. proposing a model for how language should be used), but historically descriptive (i.e. offering documentation of the vocabulary of Italian in the course of its history). From the beginning, the Accademia della Crusca decided to make use of computers to manage the documentation, to a large extent new to the lexicographical tradition.
In 1973 the Accademia della Crusca decided to split the projected dictionary in two sections, divided by the symbolical date of 1375, the year of Giovanni Boccaccio's death, and to concentrate the work on the oldest section, which required a different methodology than the more recent section.
In 1983 (Italian Law 6.1.1983 n. 6) the staff of the Opera del Vocabolario was transferred to the C.N.R., where the new Centro di studi Opera del Vocabolario Italiano started its activity in 1985.
With the recent reorganization of the C.N.R. the Centro di studi became an Institute, retaining its old name and without having to merge with other institutions. The Institute came into being on June 15, 2002.
The principal activities are:
1) the compilation of the Tesoro della Lingua Italiana delle Origini (TLIO), which at August 2023 amounts to 43,321 online entries (but more then 50,000 available entries, almost 86% of the total);
2) the development, necessary for the dictionary work, of the database of Old Italian texts. This database (more then 30 million of occurrences) is also an independent linguistical research tool and is searchable through the Internet;
3) the development of software for lexicographical and linguistical purposes, in particular for the management of textual corpuses similar to the one upon which the TLIO is based.
The OVI publishes a yearly "Bollettino" (I 1994, II 1997 - XXVI 2021), where readers can find samples of TLIO entries (since volume II), a general index of the entries published on the website (since volume V), and papers on philological subjects (in particular, text editions destined to inclusion in the database) and on subjects of 'computers and the humanities' (on the constitution of the OVI database, on GATTO, on the OVI website dictionary interface). The OVI publishes also a Supplement to the "Bollettino" (1 2001; 2 2007; 3 2012; 4 2013; 5 2016; 6 2017; 7 2019). The "Bollettino" and his supplement are published by the Edizioni dell'Orso (Alessandria), without any need for financial support from the C.N.R.
The OVI personnel is composed in August 2023 by 15 stably employed persons, thus divided: research directors 3 (one is the OVI Director), researchers 10, researcher clerical staff 3, administrative personnel 1. To these are added 19 research fellows, one collaborator, and 13 affiliated scholars.