The PIV online uses many symbols that can sometimes be deduced—but not always.

For instance, if you look up mortiĝi, you get:

screenshot of PIV

You can hover over “evi” to discover it means evitinda (avoidable), and the blue-on-green superscript “Z” means the quote is from Zamenhof, but what does the asterisk mean? (In linguistics, a prefix asterisk means “wrong”, and that might make sense here since mortiĝi is “avoidable”.)

Then a symbol like obviously means “see also”…. The cross in the entry for mortinda is telling you that “mortal sin” is a Catholic usage. Or… maybe it means a Christian usage—or maybe, just “religious”? How can one know?

Other symbols such as are, like the cross, understandable in context, but for a reference work, it would be nice to know their “official” meanings.

Maybe I’m just missing something obvious, but I can’t find a “key” or any other “front matter”, and searching for symbols doesn’t produce anything: A search for ⚥ giving: “Eraro: Bedaŭrinde la serĉo ne estis sukcesa!“

Is there a “cheat sheet” somewhere? I imagine a printed PIV would have this, but I don’t have one handy.

(Note: an earlier version of this question said I also would like a key to abbreviations in the PIV, but that, it was suggested, made this question a duplicate of another question. Although that answer is in Spanish, so I’m not quite certain it’s a real duplicate in the useful sense, it’s not my place to say—so I’ve removed references to abbreviations. There were comments and answers added that only addressed that part of the question, so you may want to take that into account in reading seemingly-unresponsive comments/answers.)


If you hover over the asterisk you'll get the message "Fundamenta", to indicate that the word mortiĝi appears in the Universala Vortaro of the Fundamento de Esperanto. As long as you can hover over those symbols and abbreviations everything is fine. But wait! Did you notice the k-letter in la domo forbrulis k la juna pasero mortiĝis? It is an abbreviation for kaj. That particular one is easy to guess. But there are a bunch of others, which are less intuitive and, even worse, aren't hoverable. Some examples: Sp. in figbirdo (for Specio). How about: g., sk, jc, pp., and so forth.

You'll find some lists of abbreviations here and there. Reta Vortaro has one here. Another one, more comprehensive and downloadable as PDF, is this one.


The new PIV 2020 includes a Listo de la mallongigoj kaj simboloj uzataj en la vortaro. According to Bertilo:

PIV 2020 loĝas nun provizore ĉe la adreso bertilow.com/vortaro.net/. Sed iam poste ĝi estos ĉe vortaro.net, kie nun troviĝas PIV 2005.

  • 1
    I can't download the PDF. The page asks me to wait 60 s and when the time is finally up and the download button gets enabled, I press it and get a message saying expiration error. – Juha Metsäkallas May 5 '20 at 6:49
  • @Juha Metsäkallas: Strange! Mi ĵus provis kaj elŝutis la dosieron senprobleme. Mi alŝutis ĝin al WeTransfer kaj esperas ke ĝi funkcios por vi kaj aliaj. – Vidamuzo May 5 '20 at 10:01
  • Elŝutado el WeTransfer funkcias por mi. Dankon! – Juha Metsäkallas May 5 '20 at 12:30
  • The symbols are much more confusing to me, @Vidamuzo — I can look up the abbreviations with Google even if they aren’t in PIV themselves (and many are). As for hovering, I have a physical disability and not all the devices I use support hovering—nor do mobile browsers for anyone. – Trey May 5 '20 at 14:29
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    @Trey: There are various handicaps (e.g., tremor or blindness) that keep users from normally using any pointing device (such as a mouse or trackpad). I therefore assume there must be means for those users (maybe built-in to browsers, maybe provided by add-ons, screen readers or other assisting software) to access hover texts on websites. Maybe you can research what means exist and use one of those. As a last resort (because not particularly ergonomic) you can always view the HTML source code of a vortaro.net web page to reveal hover texts. They'll usually be in the title attribute. – das-g May 8 '20 at 6:54

I copied four pages (mallongigoj, simboloj, signoj) from PIV 2002. You can find the pdf-file here:


I can't guarantee the file will remain there indefinitely, so feel free to copy it into a more appropriate place. Don't forget to post the new link here.

The mysterious symbols are a nuisance in PIV – legacy of French lexicography I suppose. Abbreviations are a bit less mysterious, but even they should be avoided in a web dictionary.

One symbol you mention is the asterisk. It certainly doesn't mean the word is ungrammatical (the usual meaning in linguistics). Quite the contrary: the words preceded by an asterisk are core elements of Esperanto vocabulary, defined in the Fundamento de Esperanto.

  • Thank you! I’d accept this answer if it weren’t for the unofficial and possibly transient nature of your PDF. Perhaps I’ll make a text version (if I convert to Unicode/emoji symbols and don’t copy wholesale from the source, it probably would constitute fair use). Perfect — and thanks for the correction on the asterisk. – Trey May 7 '20 at 17:41
  • — if I do make that list of ~65 symbols, would you like me to provide them to you to add to your answer, or shall I answer it myself? This will probably take a couple days as some of the characters aren’t in Unicode, so were adapted to something else for Vortaro and I’ll have to figure out what those are. (I’m very amused to see that the plain white box I’d assumed indicated a symbol or emoji my fonts don’t have is simply, for some reason, the symbol they chose for the book and maintained online, for “physics”.) – Trey May 7 '20 at 17:51
  • Actually, it may be quite a bit harder than it seems. Because they chose the most representative Unicode glyphs, even when they didn’t look like the 2002 printing—but in order to preserve these looks, they use a special webfont. So, for instance, ☸, which is the wheel of Dharma symbol, is used for Budhismo — but the PIV webfont preserves it as a meditating silhouette. No way to use the webfont here on Stack Exchange (or, for that matter, on any site I could post content to). So I’ll have to do lots of screenshot/imagemanip work, sigh. – Trey May 7 '20 at 18:00
  • Harri, thanks for this—it was extremely helpful until @Vidamuzo reported on the new 2020 addition above. – Trey Aug 2 '20 at 21:07

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