The University of Glasgow Historical Thesaurus of English was initiated by the late Professor Michael Samuels in 1965, and the first full version of the Thesaurus was completed in 2008 under the direction of Professor Christian Kay. It contains almost 800,000 words from Old English to the present day arranged into detailed hierarchies within broad conceptual categories such as Thought or Music. It is primarily based on the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary and its Supplements, with additional materials from A Thesaurus of Old English, and was published in print as the Historical Thesaurus of the OED by Oxford University Press in October 2009.
This online version enables users to pinpoint the range of meanings of a word throughout its history, their synonyms, and their relationship to words of more general or more specific meaning. In addition to providing hitherto unavailable information for linguists, historians of language, authors, students of English, and textual scholars, the Historical Thesaurus is a rich and unparalleled resource for investigating social and cultural history, showing the development of concepts through the words that refer to them.