LINGUIST List 26.819

Mon Feb 09 2015

FYI: Historical Thesaurus of English Online

Editor for this issue: Uliana Kazagasheva <>

Date: 08-Feb-2015
From: Marc Alexander <>
Subject: Historical Thesaurus of English Online
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For the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Historical Thesaurus of English, the University of Glasgow has made the latest version of the Thesaurus freely-available online at

The Historical Thesaurus takes all the words in the 1300-year history of English and arranges them into a vast hierarchy of meanings to form a unique record of the language and its speakers. The Thesaurus is not just the world's only historical thesaurus, but it is also by far the largest and most complete thesaurus of English in any period, containing 793,742 word forms arranged into 225,131 meaning categories.

To create this resource, a team of over 230 people spent more than four decades dismantling dictionaries - including the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary - into their constituent words, noting their meanings and dates of use, and then reassembling the words into wholly new groupings based on those meanings. The new website presents the revised version 4.2 of the data, and is designed to be used on mobile phones and tablets as well as desktop and laptop computers. The site contains comprehensive About pages with information, photographs and links to further details on the project and its history.

We hope the new website is of use to linguists, historians, literary scholars, digital humanists, and the scholarly community at large.

All best wishes,

Dr Marc Gabriel Alexander
Senior Lecturer in English Language, University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 6501 | | MarcGAlexander
Director, Historical Thesaurus of English
The University of Glasgow, charity number SC004401

Linguistic Field(s): Lexicography; Semantics; Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Page Updated: 09-Feb-2015