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CAB Direct (CAB Abstracts): CAB Thesaurus

CAB Thesaurus

It is a good idea to check to see that you are using the best terms for your topic. The CAB Direct Thesaurus provides access to preferred subject terms.

The CAB Thesaurus is used to index all the key concepts of an article.

You can access the CAB Thesaurus using the "Thesaurus" tab at the top of every CAB Direct page.

The Thesaurus is arranged hierarchically so it displays both broader and narrower search terms -- broader terms are larger in scope; narrower terms are more limited.

Broader, narrower, and related terms can help you find relevant search terms.

Cross-references from non-preferred synonyms to preferred terms.

For example, searching "mosquitoes" gives the preferred term "Culicidae".

Image of CAB thesaurus entry for Mosquitoes.

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Searching Using the CAB Direct Thesaurus

Searching terms

Search for words by entering the first few letters of the word or the entire term in the Search Thesaurus box. Click the arrow or the "Search" button. When the "Search results" are displayed, clicking on a term will display the term record.

Some Search Options

Search type

Determines whether to look for terms which begin with the text entered or terms which contain the text entered.

Searching for 'plant' with "Search type" set to "terms begin with text" will find

  • plant (industrial) click to add this term
  • plant analysis click to add this term
  • plant anatomy click to add this term
  • plant breeding click to add this term

Searching for 'plant' with "Search type" set to "terms contain text" will find

  • abortion (plants) click to add this term
  • acaricidal plants click to add this term
  • algicidal plants click to add this term
  • Alisma plantago-aquatica click to add this term

Term type

Determines whether results should display all terms in the thesaurus that match the search criteria or only top terms. These two options apply only where the "Search type" is "term begins with text".

A top term is a term that sits at the top of the thesaurus hierarchy. That means a top term does not have any Broader Terms. When "top terms" is chosen, your search will be slower.

The following is the Term Record for the top term "eukaryotes". Notice there are no Broader Terms, only Narrower Terms.

eukaryotes click to add this term


organismos eucariotes



Technical Categories

COM Common Name (Organisms)

P Plural Form

Narrower Term

animals click to add this term

fungi click to add this term

plants click to add this term

Related Term Broader

organisms click to add this term

Subject Category

ON Organism Names

When "top terms" is chosen, the search will perform significantly slower.

Creating your search using the Search String box

Clicking on the click to add this term button will add the adjacent term to the Search String box.

The search string can be extended by adding further terms.

Your completed search strategy can used by clicking "Send to CAB Direct." The search results are displayed in a separate browser tab.

The Search String box is fully editable. A search string may be edited at any time.

The search string can handle Boolean operators, such as OR, AND and NOT. The default operator is OR but that can be edited to something else. It is recommended that Boolean operators be typed in upper case.

For more information, go to CAB Direct Thesaurus help.