- Honorary Senior Research Fellow (English Language)
- Responsibility for classification, editing and the development of the database of the Historical Thesaurus of English
- Semantic change
- Folk etymology
M.A. Glasgow, M.Litt. Glasgow, Thesis 'A Notional and Historical Classification of Two Parts of English Lexis' (1969), a detailed study within a framework of modern linguistics of a concrete and an abstract semantic field, 'The Body and its Parts' and 'Painful Emotions'.
Irene Wotherspoon has been involved with the Historical Thesaurus of English since 1969, and has taught Old English and Level 1 tutorials in the Department of English Language. Since 1988, in addition to editing the HTE material, she has been responsible for training and supervision of HTE research assistants and for the development of the electronic database. The Historical Thesaurus of English was published as The Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary in 2009. It was very well received, and won the Saltire Society Research Book of the Year Award in 2009. Royalties from sales are being used to fund postgraduate scholarships in English Language at Glasgow University.
She is a contributor to the Anglo-Saxon Plant-Names Survey (ASPNS).
From 2007 to 2010 she worked on the Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o' Riches project, cataloguing sound recordings from the archives of the School of Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University. This material and recordings from the NTS Canna Collection and from the BBC archives, together with detailed background information, are now publicly accessible at www.tobarandualchais.co.uk.