Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary

ISBN : 9780199680474

David Crystal
304 ページ
148 x 222 mm



  • Focuses on fifteen universal themes: words for dying, words for nose, words for being drunk, words for a meal, words for a privy, words for a fool, words of endearment, words for oaths, words for inns and hotels, words for a prostitute, words for money, words for calm and stormy weather, words for old person, words for types of pop music, and words for spacecraft
  • Each chapter takes the reader through the timeline of words for each topic starting with the earliest words in English and discusses which words appeared when and why, and what that tells us about the language of that semantic field
  • Based on the highly acclaimed Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary
  • Written by the world's leading authority on the English language, Professor David Crystal, author of over 100 books on the English language
  • Offers a unique view of the English language and its development, and includes witty commentary and anecdotes along the way
  • Useful supplementary material includes a list of symbols and abbreviations, a glossary of linguistic terms, a section on further reading and sources, as well chronological indexes of words, people, and general topics

Did you know that the English language has over 150 words for the adjective 'drunk' developed over 1,000 years? Be prepared to learn words you have never heard before, find out fascinating facts behind everyday words, and be surprised at how lively and varied the English language can be. 

Published to critical acclaim in 2009, the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary is the first comprehensive thesaurus in the world to arrange words by meaning in order of first recorded use. Using its unique perspective on how the English language has developed, Words in Time and Place takes 15 themes and explores the language in these areas over time - explaining when new words appeared, where they came from, and what such changes say about times in which they emerged. The themes chosen are varied, universal topics and show the semantic range of the thesaurus and what it can tell us about the words used in areas of everyday life. Learn about the different words for dying and money, or types of pop music, as well as words for a privy, oaths, and words for being drunk. 

Written by the world's leading expert on the English language, David Crystal, the book carries his trademark style of engaging yet authoritative writing. 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.

Words in Time and Place showcases the unique and excellent resource that is the Historical Thesaurus and reveals the linguistic treasures to be found within. This fascinating book will appeal to anyone with an interest in words and in the development of the English language.

"As a companion piece to the weightier and more expensive Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, or a more accessible and affordable alternative, Words in Time and Place is an invaluable and engaging whistle-stop tour of the English language." - Reference Reviews, Sarah Powell

"Colourful phrases and expressive slang abound" - Writing Magazine

"Anyone interested in wordsand their origins will derive a great deal of pleasure from perusing this book." - Network Review

"fascinating, erudite and highly entertaining" - Tablet, Matthew Adams

"Scholarly, yet in classic Crystal style, with the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch serving to illustrate Anglo-Saxon defunctive synonymy, this is a serious yet accessible introduction to a supreme work of reference" - Good Book Guide

"beautifully written" - Annie Martirosyan, Huffington Post Blogs

"If you like the sound of being spliflicated, muckibus, pottical or swacked, David Crystal's Words in Time and Place is for you." - Susie Dent, Books of the year 2014, Spectator

"It's the kind of book that you can browse through time and again and learn something new each time. This one is staying on my Kindle for good!" - Corinne Rodrigues, Write Tribe

"The book is a browser's delight." - Michael Quinion, World Wide Words


General introduction
Words in Time and Place
1: From swelt to zonk: words for dying
2: From neb to hooter: words for nose
3: From cup-shot to rat-arsed: words for being drunk
4: From meatship to trough, and nuncheon to short-eat: words for a (light) meal
5: From gong to shitter, and closet to the House of Lords: words for a privy
6: From dizzy to numpty: words for a fool
7: From darling to lamb-chop: words of endearment
8: From lo to knickers, and aplight to sapristi: oaths and exclamations
9: From guest house to floatel: words for inns and hotels
10: From meretrix to parlor girl: words for a prostitute
11: From mint to dosh: words for money
12: From smolt to untempestuous and reigh to ugly: words for calm and stormy weather
13: From ealda to geriatricbevar to poppa stoppa, and trot to old boot: words for old person, old man, old woman
14: From skiffle to grime: words for types of pop music
15: From astronaut to Skylab: words for spacecraft
Symbols and abbreviations
Further reading and sources
Chronological index of words
Chronological index of people
Chronological index of general topics


David Crystal, Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Wales, Bangor
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, including The Stories of English (2004), Evolving English (2010), Begat: The King James Bible and the English Language (2010), The Story of English in 100 Words (2011), Spell It Out: The Singular Story of English Spelling (2012), and Wordsmiths and Warriors: The English-Language Tourist's Guide to Britain (with Hilary Crystal, 2013).