The European Language Social Science Thesaurus (ELSST) is a broad-based, multilingual thesaurus for the social sciences.

It is currently available in 14 languages: Danish, Dutch, Czech, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Romanian, Slovenian, Spanish, and Swedish.

ELSST was originally developed in 2000 as part of the EU-funded LIMBER project. It has been enhanced and extended through additional funding from the ESRC, the University of Essex, and through subsequent EU grants.

The current version of ELSST was released on 16 June 2020. The previous version dates from 10 September 2019.

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ELSST employs the usual range of terms and thesaural relationships:

  • Preferred Terms (PTs)
  • Use For (UFs) or Non-Preferred terms
  • Broader Terms (BTs)
  • Narrower Terms (NTs)
  • Related Terms (RTs)

ELSST's UFs are entry level terms rather than pure synonyms.

Scope notes are used to define and clarify the semantic boundaries of a concept as it is applied in the thesaurus.  Scope note sources refer to the authoritative reference works and other sources the scope notes are based on. Use notes provide advice on term usage to either indexers or searchers. History notes may record the date of introduction or the changes made to an existing term.

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We expect to run as normal a service as possible during this COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Please visit our COVID-19 page for the latest information.

Thesaurus search

Search and browse ELSST.

 Maintenance and support

The thesaurus is updated annually. Users are encouraged to contribute to ELSST. Suggested changes are reviewed by the multinational ELSST Thesaurus Management Team, and those that are approved are added to the next version of the thesaurus.