Copyright and Terms of Use

General Terms of Use

The database of the Historical Thesaurus of English is copyright of the University of Glasgow, as is the data in the printed Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary. This site makes available parts of that data to you solely for non-commercial research purposes (such as private reference, personal research, background research for authors, and the provision of teaching materials). It is, however, not an open dataset; beyond limited extracts of up to a few hundred words which are necessary for your research or teaching, you may not reproduce, copy or transmit any part of the data on this site without an explicit licence from the University of Glasgow. Researchers must ensure that their use of the Thesaurus website does not breach these conditions of use, especially with regards to quantity of data accessed and reproduction or transmission of such data.

We must protect and safeguard the copyright of this data under the conditions of our agreement with our publisher, and also because all royalties and other income from the Historical Thesaurus which are received by Glasgow are used for postgraduate studentships and to support the ongoing work of our second edition.

We appreciate being informed about uses of the Thesaurus in any field – please contact us at

Downloading Thesaurus Data

Regardless of your purpose, you are not permitted to use this site to gain access to a significant amount of Historical Thesaurus data. Only limited quantities of data can be made available through this website, although the amount which can be accessed is more than sufficient for almost all research purposes. It is explicitly prohibited to use this website to systematically download large amounts of our data.

Obtaining Thesaurus Data for Research

We do have a mechanism for the use of Thesaurus data in research projects. This provides a research project which requires a substantial amount of Thesaurus data with the ability to apply for a no-cost research licence for our data, providing the project's purposes do not overlap with an in-progress research project for which a licence has already been issued. (We will not issue a license for a project similar to one for which we have already licenced data, including PhD projects underway at Glasgow.)

We have reached our maximum limit for issuing licences and so are at present no longer accepting new applications for licensing. We expect in late 2023 to have more capacity to issue new licences, when existing external research projects conclude.

Commercial Purposes

You may not use the material on this site for commercial or for-profit purposes. We are not opposed to commercial use of Historical Thesaurus data, but in accordance with our contract with our publishers, data from this site cannot be used for commercial purposes; please do contact us at to discuss commercialization opportunities for this data, and we will put you in touch with the relevant contacts at Oxford University Press.