Glossary – definition and meaning

A glossary is an alphabetical list of words plus their meanings. Glossaries mostly focus on a specific dialect, text, subject or theme. For example, banking glossaries focus on the meanings of words that banking people commonly use. We sometimes use the terms ‘clavis‘ and ‘vocabulary‘ with the same meaning. We also use the short-formgloss.’

This article, in fact, appears in Market Business News’ Financial Glossary.

Glossaries also appear at the end of books or articles. They consist of alphabetical lists of words as well as their meanings. The words had appeared in the book or article.

In most cases, authors insert glossaries at the end of non-fiction books or articles. However, some fiction novels have lists of unusual or unfamiliar terms.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a glossary is:

“An alphabetical list, with meanings, of the words or phrases in a text that are difficult to understand. a glossary of technical terms.”

Bilingual glossary

For a list of terms in one language that the authors define in another language, people may say bilingual glossary.

Some bilingual glossaries have synonyms or near-synonyms of the terms in another language.

Bilingual glossaries often focus on specific terms that people use in a particular field. In fact, they are useful for learning foreign ‘jargon.’

According to Cross-Cultural Survey Guidelines:

“A bilingual glossary lists special terms used in a particular field in two languages. A key notion or concept present in one language for a given field may not have a ready single match in a given other language.”

Glossary - meaning and illustration
If you are reading an article and don’t understand a term, check at the back. If there is a glossary, you may find a definition of that term.

Core glossary

Core glossaries are simple defining dictionaries that enable definitions of other concepts. They are particularly useful for people who are learning another language.

They are also useful for newcomers in a specific field or sector.

Wikipedia says the following regarding core glossaries:

“It contains a small working vocabulary and definitions for important or frequently encountered concepts, usually including idioms or metaphors useful in a culture.”

The UK’s Royal Literary Fund says that glossaries are lists of technical terms that may be unfamiliar to some readers. They may also include unfamiliar abbreviations.

When placed at the end of books or articles, glossaries appear before the bibliographies. A bibliography is a list of the books and articles that the author used, i.e., a list of sources.

The Royal Literary Fund is a British charity that has been helping authors for over 200 years (since 1790).

Video – entering a term to a glossary

This Blackboard Inc. video explains why glossaries are useful teaching aids that enable readers to search for important terms. They also help us better understand some concepts.

In this video tutorial, the speaker shows us how to add a new term.