World’s Largest Thesaurus Took 40+ Years To Finish, Set For Release In October


The Oxford University Press has announced that it will be publishing the world's largest thesaurus this autumn. Over forty years in the making, the work is said to encompass nearly the entire vocabulary of the English language.

Containing over 230,000 categories with 800,000 definitions, it will be twice the size of the current Roget's Thesaurus, which means it's going to be one thick tome. It couldn't have come at a worse time, considering electronic formats are now slowly being phased out, in exchange for their electronic counterparts.

A fire back in 1978 nearly destroyed the book, which saw the building housing its pages gutted into dust. It was saved only by the metal filing cabinet that housed it. Original publishing was slated during 1980, though it was postponed to include new words from the Oxford English Dictionary. Due to various issues and delays, the book is only seeing the light of the day after another 30 years.

Seriously, though, a physical thesaurus (even the largest one) isn't the best idea around at this day and age. With my theasaurus software, I can simply punch in a word to find meanings, synonyms and all sorts of information within split-seconds. Now, why in the hell would I trade that in for something I'd have to keep turning the pages to find what I'm looking for?

This new Oxford Thesaurus has been so long in the making, that one of the co-editors, Professor Christian Kay, started working on it when she was 27. She is now 69 years old.

It's scheduled for release as a two-volume work, consisting of 4,448 pages, this coming October. I'm seriously thinking of buying one (even at the prohibitive $316 price) just because of all the cool stories behind its actual publication. There's also a plan to port the whole thing to the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary, though there is no set date for it. Expect it within the next 40 years, though.