Subject Thesaurus

* indicates a non-preferred term, which includes a link to the preferred term

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z - #

The structure and format conventions used to construct this thesaurus follow the recommendations outlined in the Guidelines for the Construction, Format, and Management of Monolingual Thesauri, Z39.19-1993 (NISO 1993). This section identifies and provides brief descriptions of the conventions used.


  • All punctuation is excluded, with the exception of text in scope notes.
  • Hyphens are used only in cases of necessary prefixes (e.g. anti-war, pre-marital) or where literary warrant establishes the use of a hyphen to link words together (e.g. drive-by shootings). Sources for such warrant include the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (1998) and existing subject specialized thesauri (for a listing of thesauri used see the Sources Consulted bibliography). Where disagreement occurs among these sources, the decision is based on user warrant as indicated in the subject thesauri consulted.

Singular and Plural

  • Terms are expressed in plural form if they constitute "count nouns" (i.e., names of objects or concepts that are subject to the question "how many").


    • political parties
    • crops
    • veterans
  • Terms are expressed in singular form if they constitute "noncount nouns" (i.e., names of materials, substances, or states of being that are subject to the question "how much").


    • snow
    • aggression

Compound Terms

  • Compound terms in the form of noun phrases are included if they represent a single concept and exist in common usage.


    • election ballots
    • child abuse
    • property taxes
  • Compound terms in the form of prepositional noun phrases are restricted to concepts that cannot be expressed in any other way.


    • prisoners of war
    • courtroom procedures

Abbreviations and Acronyms

  • Abbreviations and/or acronyms are selected as preferred terms if they have a well-established usage and are unambiguous.


    • UFO
    • AIDS
    • DNA

Proper Names and Titles

  • Organization names are included in the Subject Thesaurus as unique entities or "classes of one" (NISO 1993).
  • Titles of institutions, treaties, and legislative acts are included in their full form except in cases where an acronym is the more familiar usage.


    • Marshall Plan
    • NAFTA
    • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Names of persons and names of geographic places are excluded from the subject thesaurus. Two separate controlled lists have been created to accommodate these categories.

Hierarchy Notation

  • The Subject Thesaurus indicates both hierarchical and non-hierarchical relationships between terms. Hierarchical relationships are those that demonstrate genus:species, whole:part, class:subclass relationships. This is designated through the Broader Term, Narrower Term notation.


    • elections
    • NARROW TERM(S): congressional elections
    • congressional elections
    • BROADER TERM(S): elections
  • Non-hierarchical relationships indicate a close conceptual relationship (though not synonymous) between terms. This is always represented as reciprocal and is indicated by the related term notation.


    • judicial decisions
    • RELATED TERM(S): appellate courts
    • appellate courts
    • RELATED TERM(S): judicial decisions

Preferred and Non-Preferred Terms

  • Synonyms, near synonyms, alternate spellings, superseded terms, and abbreviations of less commonly used terms are controlled by designating a "preferred term" and referencing it to all relevant (semantically equivalent) "non-preferred terms" and term variants. This is indicated by the Preferred Term and Non-Preferred Term notation, where the term following Preferred Term is the preferred term (to index and search by) and the term following Non-Preferred Term indicates the non-preferred term.


    • primitive peoples
    • Preferred Term: indigenous peoples
    • indigenous peoples
    • Non-Preferred Term: primitive peoples


  • Parenthetic qualifiers are used to disambiguate homonyms and to clarify terms whose meaning or context in time and space may cause confusion. Qualifiers become part of the term and must be included in indexing or searching.


    • defense (legal)
    • defense (military)
    • Bush Administration (1989-1993)
    • Bush Administration (George W. 2001- )
    • Georgia (Republic)

Scope Notes

  • Scope notes are used to provide a definition for a specialized term, to provide instruction or restriction on a term's application, and in some cases, to direct the user to other terms that might be more appropriate. Scope notes are indicated by the notation SCOPE NOTE(S).


    • mistrials
    • SCOPE NOTE(S): A court trial terminated without conclusion either because of prejudicial error in the proceedings or because a jury cannot agree on a verdict.
    • congressional elections (U.S. House)
    • SCOPE NOTE(S): applies only to national elections for the United States House of Representatives.
    • Soviet Union
    • SCOPE NOTE(S): Use limited to 1922-1991; dissolved 1991.


Kennedy Administration (1961-1963)
kidney disease*
Knights of Labor
knowledge (awareness)
knowledge level
Korean Americans
Korean War
Ku Klux Klan