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The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary (HTOED) is a unique new resource charting the semantic development of the huge and varied vocabulary of English. It is the first comprehensive historical thesaurus ever produced for any language, containing almost every word in English from Old English to the present day, and is a magnificent resource for the historical study of the language.
It is based on a detailed analysis of English as found in the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and also draws on A Thesaurus of Old English. Conceived and compiled by the English Language Department of the University of Glasgow over a period of some 45 years, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is a groundbreaking analysis of meaning in the history of English.
Content and Structure
The thesaurus organization follows a unique thematic system of classification, with entries arranged in a comprehensive semantic hierarchy according to their meanings. Each individual synonym is presented in chronological order according to the first recorded date of the word's use in English as listed in the Oxford English Dictionary with earliest synonyms given first.
There are three major sections in the HTOED, reflecting the main activities and preoccupations of users of the language:-
The semantic categories and subcategories are headed by phrases which define them and link to preceding sections. In the abridged example given here, the headings and numbering show that Terms of endearment, at the fourth level of the semantic hierarchy, are part of Love, which is classified within the higher category of Emotion, which in turn comes under: The mind:-
The final printed work is presented in two volumes. Volume 1 is the Thesaurus, while Volume 2 is the alphabetical Index listing the synonyms in Volume 1. Readers may thus approach the content of the Thesaurus in different ways: either by looking up a single lexical item in the Index and being directed to the appropriate section in the main Thesaurus, or by browsing by semantic category directly, and seeing words in their context of both historical development and the overall organization of meaning.
There is an Introductory essay by the Editors and a Foreword written by Lord Randolph Quirk, together with a specially commissioned fold-out chart showing the principal levels of the semantic classification.