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A controlled vocabulary thesaurus that consists of sets of terms naming descriptors in a hierarchical structure that permits searching at various levels of specificity. MeSH, in machine-readable form, is provided at no charge via electronic means. MeSH descriptors are arranged in both an alphabetic and a hierarchical structure. At the most general level of the hierarchical structure are very broad headings such as Anatomy or Mental Disorders. More specific headings are found at more narrow levels of the twelve-level hierarchy, such as Ankle and Conduct Disorder. There are 27,149 descriptors in 2014 MeSH. There are also over 218,000 entry terms that assist in finding the most appropriate MeSH Heading, for example, Vitamin C is an entry term to Ascorbic Acid. In addition to these headings, there are more than 219,000 headings called Supplementary Concept Records (formerly Supplementary Chemical Records) within a separate thesaurus. The MeSH thesaurus is used by NLM for indexing articles from 5,400 of the world's leading biomedical journals for the MEDLINE/PubMED database. It is also used for the NLM-produced database that includes cataloging of books, documents, and audiovisuals acquired by the Library. Each bibliographic reference is associated with a set of MeSH terms that describe the content of the item. Similarly, search queries use MeSH vocabulary to find items on a desired topic.

URL: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/mesh

Resource ID: nlx_75424     Resource Type: Resource     Version: Latest Version


umls, database, health, thesaurus, medical, gold standard


Contact: NLM Customer Service, custserv (at) nlm.nih.gov

Listed By


Alternate URLs


Related To

Resource:MEDLINE, Resource:PubMed



Parent Organization


Medical Subject Headings, MeSH (Medical Subject Headings), MeSH (Medical Subject Headings)

Additional Resource Types

controlled vocabulary





Original Submitter


Version Status


Submitted On

12:00am July 11, 2011

Originated From


Changes from Previous Version

First Version

Version 1

Created 4 years ago by Anonymous