What Is A Glossary?

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What Is A Glossary?

A glossary also known as vocabulary is a set of terms in alphabetical order usually at the end of the page along with their definitions. It is usually present in journals, academic papers, thesis, books, or in some particular domains of knowledge. The list of terms usually involves the typical words which are hard to understand. Whenever we face a difficult word while reading, we quickly search the term on our mobile phone to understand its meaning which is quite time-consuming. Creating a glossary at the end of the page helps the reader in saving time. The key terms of the basic glossary usually relate to the topics of the book in which they are written. It is also known as an alphabetical list involving the meanings of all common terms of the journal. This article would be helpful for those who ask about what is a glossary?


Origin for Glossary

The word glossary was originated from the Latin word ‘glossa’ meaning obsolete or foreign word which was later modified to a Greek word ‘glossarion‘ meaning diminutive of glossa. Then it was again changed to ‘glossarium’ which means a collection of glosses. Later during the time period of 1300-1400, the Latin word Glossary was used for the list of terms with definitions. The least group of terms are described by Alastair Mackie, who presents a shirt with a Visual Victorian-Era- Glossary of mushroom types. In recent years, the computational approaches are improved to the automated extraction of glossaries.

How to write a Glossary?

Always write the glossary of your academic paper after completing your work. It will help you to carry out the main terms which are not understandable for the average readers. You should follow the following steps to write a glossary perfectly:

  • Identify the key terms which should be available in the glossary
  • Then create a list of definitions for all the terms
  • Format them and make sure that they are easily readable
  • Make sure that your glossary of terms is in alphabetical order

Examples of Glossary

Abdomen – the belly of an animal

Antennae – body parts that sense, touch, and smell

Bladder – hollow muscular organs in humans and other vertebrates

Hatch – come out of an egg

Herbivore – An animal that eats plants


Types of Glossary

There are different types of glossaries and each one is based upon different topics and cultures. However, each one of them focuses on the key terms that are relevant to a specific story and materials. The author compiles up the list of terms according to the list of subjects. Some of the types or we can also call them as examples of the glossary are given below:

Core Glossary

Among definitions for glossary, a core glossary is a simple glossary that provides definitions of other concepts. Specifically, for people who are newcomers to a specific language or course. The purpose of vocabulary is to help people in understanding unfamiliar words. We also call it a small working glossary for important and difficult concepts. Sometimes it includes idioms and metaphors which are useful in a culture or a custom.

What is A Glossary to Use for Translation?

A bilingual glossary involves lists of terms written in one language and translated into another language in the glossary. For example, translation of a word written in Spanish el/la coronel into English is a senior officer military rank in many countries. The glossary helps your translators to make sure that anytime a key term appears in any language, it is used appropriately and correctly. For example, the terms laptop and notebook computer are similar. But you should choose only one of them for the whole material you are working on for a book.

Intelligence Law Glossary

The intelligence law glossary will describe all the key terms used in intelligence law. Usually, the terms are related to the understanding of the nature or consequences of an act or a decision.

Glossary of Feelings

The list of terms that consists of the words that describe the emotional state or reactions is called a glossary of feelings. An example would be that of happiness, stress, and anxiety.

Glossary of Business

Glossary of business similarly refers to all the main terms that are used in the business sector. However, it includes marketing strategies, accounting period, balance sheet, and many more.


Characteristics of an Effective Glossary

The glossary works as a translator by eliminating the difficulty to understand words. This easy and simple tool should have the following characteristics:

  • It should contain organized references. It is equally high-class and collectively thorough. Mutually exclusive means that every term should be included only once in the glossary. Whereas, collectively thorough means that all terms which require specific descriptions are included within the glossary.
  • Your glossary should be related to your product. It means that all the common terms you are highlighting should be related to your topic. It should not focus on any other industry standards or academic criteria.
  • Glossaries should be as brief as possible. Stick to the point and do not write detailed explanations of a term. Just provide an overview of the term. Composing thousands of words will slow down the translation process and it will become difficult to navigate the word we are looking for.
  • It should provide a definition as well as a context of a key term. Your glossary should not be limited to the word or its meaning but it should also provide a comprehendible proper usage to the reader.
  • Few terms might be difficult to explain. It is mainly because such terms are the names of a certain product or a company name that cannot be changed. If you provide a list of such terms and mention them separately, it will become a plus point for your glossary.

Benefits of an Effective Glossary

An effective glossary has a large number of benefits. The translation glossary is an index or list of specific words which are described in your target or language source. Some of its major benefits include:

Increased productivity

When a person is using a glossary along with its reading process, he can make himself more productive. Moreover, it also eliminates the inconsistent terminology.

No translation costs

If you have a glossary at the end of your book, you can easily escape translation costs because you will not need to buy any dictionary or any helping book to understand the meanings of difficult words. Here, you’ll find some technology tools that will help you find glossaries.

Organized Pattern

When you write your glossary in alphabetical order, it becomes very easy to understand the meaning because it creates harmony in a beautiful pattern. You will comprehend the meanings of difficult words by sticking to the topic throughout.

Saves Time

An important point is that if you have an effective glossary, all you need to do is to refer meaning of the words from the back of your book. You will understand things with no difficulty. As well it will save your time since you do not have to research a word on the Internet.


A glossary at the back of your book helps in understanding the meaning of difficult phrases or words with much ease. It is a preferred tool in all sectors of literature. Refer to the key points given in this article about creating an effective and meaningful glossary. It has lots of uses and it can have different types based on the topics like business, statistics, a glossary for unemployment, etc. The teachers should ask students to make a glossary for the selective topics. It will help them in understanding the basis of literature more appropriately. You should always create a glossary at the back of your academic work.

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