Versions and Updates

The classification and base data of the Historical Thesaurus of English database has evolved and changed over the forty years of the project. The current database version is 5.0, released in October 2020. The print edition, published in 2009 as the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, was version 1.0, the version first distributed for research beginning in March 2013 was 2.0, and our second edition began with version 5.0. We list below the major revisions.

As the changes involve substantial alterations to category numbering, category contents, and dates, we strongly recommend that any publications or research using the Historical Thesaurus indicate the version number of the database which is being used in that research.


Version 2 to Version 3:

Moving some categories and removing the need for "00" categories:

Main alterations in categories formerly beginning 01.01.05 (Water) et seq., 01.02 (Life) et seq., 01.03 (Physical Sensibility) et seq., 01.04.02 (Chemistry) et seq., 02.06 (Refusal/Denial, now et seq., (Goodness and Badness, now 02.06.01/02) et seq., 03.07 (Faith) et seq., 03.09 (Travel/travelling) et seq., and 03.11 (Leisure) et seq.

Version 3 to Version 4:

A major reorganisation, involving two substantial operations:

Major structural alterations, particularly in the creation of 01.03 Health and disease (previously 01.02.01) et seq., 01.04 People (previously 01.02.07) et seq., 01.05 Animals (previously 01.02.06) et seq., 01.06 Plants (previously 01.02.04) et seq., 01.07 Food and drink (previously 01.02.08) et seq., 01.08 Textiles and clothing (previously 01.02.09 and 01.02.10) et seq., 01.09 Physical sensation (previously 01.03) et seq., 01.10 Matter (previously 01.04) et seq., 01.11 Existence and causation (previously 01.05.01-01.05.04) et seq., 01.12 Space (previously 01.05.07) et seq., 01.13 Time (previously 01.05.06) et seq., 01.14 Movement (previously 01.05.08) et seq., 01.15 Action (previously 01.05.05) et seq., 01.16 Relative properties (previously 01.06) et seq., 01.17 The supernatural (previously 01.07) et seq., 02.01.15 Philosophy (previously 02.03) et seq., 02.02 Attention and judgement (previously 02.01.15,, 02.01.16-18, 02.04) et seq., 02.03 Goodness and badness (previously 02.06 in 3.0 and in pre-3.0; see above) et seq., 02.04 Emotion (previously 02.02) et seq., 02.06 Possession (previously 02.07) et seq., 02.07 Language (previously 02.08) et seq., 03.05 Law (previously 03.04.13) et seq., 03.06 Morality (previously 03.05) et seq., 03.07 Education (previously 03.06) et seq., 03.08 Faith (previously 03.07) et seq., 03.09 Communication (previously 03.08) et seq., 03.10 Travel and travelling (previously 03.09) et seq., 03.11 Occupation and work (previously 03.10) et seq., 03.12 Trade and finance (previously 03.10.13) et seq., 03.13 Leisure (previously 03.11) et seq.. There are now 37 rather than 26 level two categories.

In addition, this change involved a renaming operation which affected approximately 40% of what are now level 3 category headings.

Version 4 to Version 5:

Second edition, bringing together all changes from version 1.0 onwards. Incorporates new OED3 data, including c.12,000 new words and revising dates for c.160,000 entries.

In addition, minor structural alterations, particularly in the revision of 01.02 Life and death and alterations to the structure of all its child categories) et seq..

Version Numbers

Below are the major revisions to the Historical Thesaurus database, with minor internal versions omitted.

  • v0.1 – Raw data
  • v0.2 – dBase files (designed by Irené Wotherspoon and Flora Edmonds)
  • v0.5 – Excel files in small clusters for use (managed by Flora Edmonds)
  • v0.6 – Excel files in small editing clusters for updates (managed by Flora Edmonds and Marc Alexander)
  • v0.7 – Excel files in large final-editing clusters (managed by Marc Alexander), July 2008
  • v0.9 – Preliminary research version (designed by Marc Alexander), October 2008
  • v0.10 – Proofreading version (managed by Marc Alexander), November 2008
  • v1.0The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (the print version, published by Oxford University Press), June 2009
  • v1.1 – Version with HTOED print changes and layout changes (designed by Marc Alexander), October 2009
  • v1.2 – Data corrections from later proofreading (managed by Flora Edmonds), February 2011
  • v2.0 – Field changes, structural operations, and field clarifications for research purposes (designed by Marc Alexander), March 2013
  • v2.3 – Major structural changes into a relational structure (designed by Marc Alexander/Brian Aitken), September 2013
  • v3.0 – Category renumbered version (managed by Marc Alexander/Brian Aitken/Christian Kay), June 2014
  • v3.1 – Thematic dataset added (designed by Marc Alexander/Brian Aitken/Fraser Dallachy/Christian Kay), July 2014
  • v4.0 – Category renumbered version (managed by Marc Alexander/Brian Aitken/Fraser Dallachy/Christian Kay), August 2014
  • v4.1 – Field changes and internal alterations (managed by Marc Alexander/Brian Aitken), August 2014
  • v4.2 – Revised thematic dataset (managed by Marc Alexander/Brian Aitken/Fraser Dallachy/Christian Kay), September 2014
  • v4.21 – Minor corrections (managed by Marc Alexander/Brian Aitken/Fraser Dallachy/Christian Kay), last updated December 2016
  • v5.0 (current version) – Second edition, including OED3 data (managed by Marc Alexander/Brian Aitken/Fraser Dallachy), last updated October 2020

This Website

This is at present the fourth major version of the Historical Thesaurus website, which was first put online in 1997 (including only those categories which had been completed at that time) and then redeveloped in 2005. The present site was launched in 2013 and this redesign was released in 2017. The webmaster for the Thesaurus is Brian Aitken.

Version Number Converter

You can convert Thesaurus headings from version 1 (the print edition) to the current version, or vice versa, below. Enter the category number below, with each ‘tier’ of the category number in a separate box.

Tier 1Tier 2Tier 3Tier 4Tier 5Tier 6Tier 7