About 800,000 words and more than 1,000 years of the English language have been published in a vast new online database.

The Historical Thesaurus of English is said to be the only resource to make the meaning of every English word from the last millennium available to the public online.

It is a digital version of the Historical Thesaurus of English Project, the printed version of which was first published in 2009 after 44 years of work by academics at the University of Glasgow.

The new website - historicalthesaurus.arts.gla.ac.uk - was launched today on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the project.

Since it started on January 15 1965, the project has taken 230 linguists to complete and is still being added to today.

According to the university, it is the world's only complete historical thesaurus published in any language.

Categories with the most words and phrases include terms of endearment and various ways of describing someone as stupid or drunk over the years.

In the endearment category, terms such as "darling" and "my dove" have been used for hundreds of years, but phrases including "luv" and "lamb chop" are more recent, according to the thesaurus.

The 16th century threw up its own terms of endearment but phrases such as "my ding-ding" and "bawcock" did not last the test of time.

The team behind the thesaurus hope it will prove a resource for studying how language has changed through the years.

Dr Marc Alexander, director of the Historical Thesaurus of English, said: "We are delighted to be able to launch this new online resource which will make the vast and completely unique contents of the Historical Thesaurus available to the public as never before.

"We hope that this will be of great use to historians, writers and linguists, but we also encourage anyone with an interest in the English language and its history - or just the history of the English-speaking peoples - to explore this fascinating resource."