The following authors, academics, and broadcasters were provided with copies of the printed Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary in 2009 by Oxford University Press, and were asked their opinions on it prior to publication. We reproduce many of them here.
Sir Roy Strong: “Surely one of the most extraordinary books of reference ever compiled.”
Melvyn Bragg: “The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary will be outstanding & indispensable & so much fun! Who would have thought that ‘smacker’ (one who gives loud kisses) came in in 1611! At the same time as the first King James Bible.”
Philip Pullman: “I can hardly imagine any reference book more valuable for the historical novelist: here is the information we had to spend hours hunting down through the thickets and coverts of the great OED, shot, stuffed, and mounted for us. But quite apart from its usefulness, I congratulate OUP on producing what will be the greatest and most enjoyable work-deferring device since the invention of computer Solitaire.”
Alexander McCall Smith: "The publication of this historical thesaurus is a momentous (important, significant) event for all lovers (admirers, devotees, aficionados) of words. I anticipate being overcome (overwhelmed, absorbed) by this book! I am one of those who is intrigued by the way in which language evolves. To see the development of the English language set out in this way will bring endless pleasure to any lover of words. This work is, quite simply, fascinating."
David Crystal: “I can hardly find words to express my feelings, at the sight of this amazing project come to fruition. I was at the original Samuels lecture, and well recall a mood of jovial disbelief that it could ever be done – at least, not within the lifetime of the people who were present… The Thesaurus will be of immense value to all kinds of people - from scholars exploring stylistic and pragmatic choices in authors such as Shakespeare to writers wanting lexical authenticity for the conversations in their novels and plays. As I read through the entries you sent, it is difficult to take it all in. Every line generates fresh insights. It is at once awe-inspiring, humbling, motivating, moving. It actually made me gasp with amazement – and I mean out loud – several times, and I can't recall lexicology doing that to me before! It's amazing how these entries make you feel so much closer to the history of the language than was previously possible… It heralds a new era in the historical study of English. I can't wait to see the whole thing.”
Ammon Shea, author of Reading the OED: “Here is a work in which you can lose yourself and find your language. The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is so thorough and readable that it resembles other thesauri in name only. Finally the OED has a worthy counterpart.”
Jean Aitchison: “A treasure-trove for anyone intrigued by word histories. Those browsing through this fascinating storehouse will discover the (sometimes surprising) first dates of many well-known words and phrases. They will also find a stockpile of enticing words which have faded out of use. An addictive hoard for those who love words.”
Barbara Kingsolver: "I've been waiting nearly all my life for a book like this - as it turns out, literally! I am thrilled that the Historical Thesaurus is now a reality. The only problem is that I may dive in and never come out again. This is a word lover's dream."
Erin McKean: “The HTOED is truly a monumental work of scholarship and is certain to be the thesaurus by which all others are judged. It's a browser's joy, and writers of all stripes are sure to find it indispensable!”
Hans-Juergen Diller: “The publication of the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is bound to make historians of other languages green with envy. English will be the first (and for a long time the only) language whose lexical development can be studied not only from the end of word forms but also from that of word meanings. "Which words were available to express concept X at period Y?" Answers to such questions will be within reach not only of dissertation- writers but also of ordinary dictionary-users.”
Eric Stanley: “No one consulting HTOED can fail to marvel at the copiousness of the English language from the age of Beowulf to the twenty-first century. In this historical thesaurus that copiousness is displayed more clearly than anywhere else; and contemplating it we may find, as we rejoice in copiousness, that we have cause to grieve over a lost world of meaning.”
Michiko Ogura: “The HTOED gives us a word history at a glance. We can see the growth and decline of synonyms, including phrases and compounds, and overlaps and deviations of meanings which are minutely subdivided with stylistic, dialectal and sociolinguistic information of speech levels according as the OED has provided us under the significations of each headword.”
Yoshio Terasawa: “No doubt the HTOED will henceforth be profitably consulted and cited by every serious scholar and student of the history of the English lexis across the centuries, and also anyone interested in semantic field studies or the history of ideas in the English speaking world. This unique major reference, the first historical English thesaurus on a full scale, will certainly take its place alongside the monumental OED on our reference shelves.”