The materials for this work have been collected during more than twenty-five years' study of the language. The words have been taken from all available sources, from the lips of speakers of all ranks, castes and occupations, from the letters and records of many different districts, and from the writers in prose and poetry of every age. A list necessarily imperfect of the literature which has been ransacked for contributions, will be subjoined under the head of Abbreviations.
2. It has been found difficult to draw the line of demarcation between Malayalam and Tamil words. These two languages of old differed rather as dialects of the same member of the Dravidian family, than as separate languages; in consequence many Tamil words occur still in local usage (e. g. അച്ചം, അട in some of its senses) or in time- honored phrases and formulas (e.g. അനുപ്പുക, അമെയുക പുരാൻ), which have long ceased to be used in colloquial speech. A consider- able number of such have been received and marked as aM. (ancient Malayalam). They cannot be dispensed with, if the Dictionary is to give a true representation of the history of the language. This history commences for us (if we except a few inscriptions on copper and stone) with the Rama Charitam, in which we probably have the oldest Malayalam poem still in existence, composed as it was before the introduction of the Sanscrit alphabet and deserving of the particular attention of the scholar, as it exhibits the earliest phase of the language, perhaps centuries before the arrival of the Portuguese. For several antiquated words (such as അഴുക, അറം, II. അങ്കി) this poem is the only authority. The bulk of the other great poems, the Bharatam, Ramaya-