Released on 08sep2014

Announcing the publication of Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, by David Crystal

If you lived in 1800, which words existed in English to let you talk about money or the weather? Or 1600? Or at any time in the history of the language? Would Thomas in Downton Abbey have said cheerio in 1912?

Words in Time and Place explores these and other questions. With the treasure-trove of the acclaimed Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary as his source, David Crystal delves into the history of fifteen fascinating sets of words: words for dying, for nose, for being drunk; for a meal, a privy, a fool; words of endearment and oaths; words for inns, prostitutes, money, weather, spacecraft; and more besides.

Each chapter features an introduction to the language of that topic, followed by a timeline of vocabulary taken from the historical thesaurus showing all the synonyms arranged in chronological order. The timelines are annotated with additional quotations, facts, and social and historical context to give a clear sense of how words entered the English language, when, and in which context they were used.

What is the Historical Thesaurus? Published to critical acclaim in 2009, the HTOED is the first comprehensive thesaurus in the world to arrange words by meaning in order of first recorded use. It includes 800,000 words and meanings, in 235,000 entry categories. It’s an unparalleled resource for linguists and language specialists, historians, literary commentators, novelists, and everyone with an interest in the English language and its historical development.

David Crystal is known throughout the world as a writer, editor, lecturer, and broadcaster on language. He has published extensively on the history and development of English. David Crystal comments, “When Oxford University Press gave me the opportunity to introduce the Historical Thesaurus to a general readership, I was somewhat daunted at the challenge presented by the scale of this extraordinary work, but I needn’t have worried. Exploring its offline and online incarnations, and its relationship to the OED mother-work, has been a real delight, and I hope I’ve managed to convey something of that excitement and sense of discovery in the entries I selected for this book.”

18 September 2014 |Hardback & eBook | £16.99 | ISBN 978-0-19-968047-4

Publicity Contact: Nicola Burton | 01865 353911 | nicola.burton@oup.com