Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary: With Additional Material from A Thesaurus of Old English

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Overview


A 40-year project in the making, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is the first historical thesaurus to include almost the entire vocabulary of English, from Old English to the present day. Conceived and compiled by the Department of English Language of the University of Glasgow, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is a groundbreaking analysis of the historical inventory of English, allowing users to find words connected in meaning throughout the history of the language.

The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is a unique resource for word-lovers of all types-linguists and language specialists, historians, literary commentators, among others-as well as being a fascinating resource for everyone with an interest in the English language and its historical development. It is a perfect complement to the OED itself, allowing the words in the OED to be cross-referenced and viewed in wholly new ways.

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  • Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary
    Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary  

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"I am one of those who is intrigued by the way in which language evolves. To see the development of the English language set out in this way will bring endless pleasure to any lover of words. This work is, quite simply, fascinating." - Alexander McCall Smith, Author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

"I've been waiting nearly all my life for a book like this -- as it turns out, literally! I am thrilled that the Historical Thesaurus is now a reality. The only problem is that I may dive in and never come out again. This is a word lover's dream." - Barbara Kingsolver, author of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

"Here is a work in which you can lose yourself and find your language. The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is so thorough and readable that it resembles other thesauri in name only. Finally the OED has a worthy counterpart." - Ammon Shea, Author of Reading the OED

"Every line generates fresh insights. It is at once awe-inspiring, humbling, motivating, moving. It actually made me gasp with amazement - and I mean out loud - several times, and I can't recall lexicology doing that to me before! It's amazing how these entries make you feel so much closer to the history of the language than was previously possible. The OED gave us individual trees, but never a sight of the whole forest or helpful pathways through it. The thesaurus does precisely that. It heralds a new era in the historical study of English." - David Crystal, author of Txtng: The Gr8 Db8

"The HTOED is truly a monumental work of scholarship and is certain to be the thesaurus by which all others are judged. It's a browser's joy, and writers of all stripes are sure to find it indispensable!" - Erin McKean, author of Totally Weird and Wonderful Words

"The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary will be outstanding & indispensable & so much fun! Who would have thought that 'Smacker' (one who gives loud kisses) came in in 1611! At the same time as the first St James Bible." - Melvyn Bragg, author of The Adventure of English

"A treasure-trove for anyone intrigued by word histories. Those browsing through this fascinating storehouse will discover the (sometimes surprising) first dates of many well-known words and phrases. They will also find a stockpile of enticing words which have faded out of use. An addictive hoard for those who love words." - Jean Aitchison, Emeritus Rupert Murdoch Professor of Language and Communication Oxford University

"One-of-a-kind...this is a landmark achievement that all academics and large research libraries should own." --Library Journal

"The world's most comprehensive thesaurus." --Poets & Writers

"This is a treasure-trove...an extraordinary work." --Michael Quinion, World Wide Words

"No words of mine can express the magnificence of this monument to our huge and often beautiful language." --Elspeth Barker, Literary Review

"Startling and amazing...the HTOED is a godsend." --Mark Peters, Good

"Once again, Oxford UP has proved itself the leader in English lexicography, and it will be a long time before speakers of other languages have anything remotely similar to this arweorþlic/reverend/canonizable work of scholarship." --Stephen Dodson, Languagehat

"The ultimate volume for the word-fetishist." --New Yorker "Book Bench"

"An astounding intellectual achievement." --Dayton Daily News

"A dizzying power to have at your fingertips, and I bet that historians, sociologists, philosophers and literary critics will soon wonder how they got by for so long without it...indespensible." --New York Times Magazine

"One of the reasons why the Historical Thesaurus of the OED is so welcome is that it restores those principles to their rightful prominence, which will enable readers to trace the living language in all of its historical glory. Roget would have approved." --Weekly Standard

"Deserves a place on the academic shelf because it indeed leaves Roget, Webster, and even other Oxford thesauri far behind...an essential purchase." --College & Research Libraries News

"Worth the wait." --Booklist Starred Review

"Rarely does a wholly new kind of reference work appear, and more rarely still does such a work seem indispensable upon its release. Whereas a historical dictionary shows the ideas associated with a given word over the centuries, the Historical Thesaurus shows the words associated with a given idea. The knowledge compiled in this 40-year project is stunning and promises to revolutionize the study of the language by making wholly new kinds of questions possible. The work is absolutely crucial to any scholarly collection. Essential." --CHOICE

Library Journal
Forty years in the making, this one-of-a-kind historical thesaurus claims to be the first to include "almost the entire vocabulary of English, from Old English to the present day," covering more than 920,000 words and meanings and documenting, through data from the Oxford English Dictionary, how words with similar meaning have developed over time. The editors at Oxford devised their own classification system to organize the material topically, similar to how Roget's is organized. The thesaurus (Volume 1) consists of three distinct sections, covering the external world, the mind, and society. Within each section, lengthening numeric codes identify increasingly specific topics, with separate paragraphs for different parts of speech. For example, first the noun-phrase "mental capacity" is coded 02.01. Adjacent paragraphs for the noun "intelligence" and the adjective "intelligent" share numeric code 02.01.08.01. The more specific concept of "sharp/shrewd" has a longer number, 02.01.08.01.02. Presenting entries with gradually narrowing shades of meaning represents careful scholarship and a valuable tool; browsing also becomes stimulating. Unfortunately, Volume 2, the index, is not as effective in guiding readers to specific entries. It lists the codes only, without hints/headwords regarding the shades of meaning included in an entry. Such hints are included in modern versions of Roget's, such as Roget's International Thesaurus, 6th ed. (HarperResource, 2002). In Oxford, 13 entries for the transitive verb "rock" are listed in the index, leaving readers to guess which entry to pursue. BOTTOM LINE Despite some issues with the index, this is a landmark achievement that all academics and largeresearch libraries should own. Although useful as a print resource, the set would reach its full potential as an online research tool. [Oxford has no immediate plans for an electronic counterpart.—Ed.]—Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199208999
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/2/2009
  • Pages: 3952
  • Sales rank: 595,478
  • Product dimensions: 9.80 (w) x 12.20 (h) x 6.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor Christian Kay, MA, AM, DipGenLing
Professor Jane Roberts, MA, DPhil, DLitt
Professor Michael Samuels, MA, DLitt, FRSE
Irené Wotherspoon, MA, MLitt

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