The Historical Thesaurus of English

The historical thesaurus of english

The Historical Thesaurus of English contains almost 800,000 words from Old English to the present day arranged into detailed semantic hierarchies. It is primarily based on the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and its Supplements, incorporating material from A Thesaurus of Old English. The online version enables users to view the meanings of a word through time, their synonyms, and their relationship to words of more general or more specific meaning. The Thesaurus is an unparalleled resource for research on the English language including its social and cultural history, showing the development of concepts through their associated vocabulary.


Project Team

† Christian Kay (University of Glasgow)
Jane Roberts (University of London)
† Michael Samuels (University of Glasgow)
Irené Wotherspoon (University of Glasgow)
Marc Alexander (University of Glasgow)
Director: Marc Alexander
Deputy Director: Fraser Dallachy
Digital Humanities Research Officer: Brian Aitken
English Language Database Manager: Flora Edmonds


The Arts and Humanities Research Board/Council, 2000–2006
The Axe-Houghton Foundation, 1978–1981
The British Academy, 1975–2004
The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland, 1998
The Leverhulme Trust, 1969–1997
The Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, 1977
The Manpower Services Commission, 1981-1988
The Modern Humanities Research Association, 1986
The University of Glasgow, 1969 onwards
Further development work on the project's database was carried out as part of the Joint Information Systems Committee project Enroller and as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council/Economic and Social Research Council project SAMUELS.