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Do you know the Historical Thesaurus of English?

HistoricalThesaurus

It’s a project of the University of Glasgow, providing information on the history of nearly 800000 words. It…

…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.

I’ve been using it for some time now, and, given my obsession with linguistic anachronisms, find it absolutely priceless. Not only does it tell you when the word you want entered in literary or common use, and what exactly did it mean back then and later – but you can browse by category, and find out what other words were used when, to indicate the same concept…

It’s the historical novelist’s perfect toy – and it’s freely accessible online here. Just one warning: it’s one of those e-places you go to find out about one little word, and when you come up for breath, hours have happily gone by.

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