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Glossaries and terminology

This section provides a brief overview of existing glossaries and multilingual "thesaurus" at European level.

Glossaries and terminology

A "glossary" is an alphabetical list of terms in a particular domain of knowledge accompanied by the definitions of those terms. In case of a bilingual glossary, the terms in one language are defined in a second language or glossed by synonyms or near-synonyms in another language. A glossary may be understood as containing explanations of concepts relevant to a certain field of study or action. In the law field, the term "glossary" may refer to two different tools: on the one hand it is used for a list of expressions with translations provided for each country; on the other hand, it is also used for a list of definitions for terminology.



Link opens in new windowIATE (InterActive Terminology for Europe) is a multilingual term database used for translations within the European institutions.

It consists of a search engine for expressions and phrases used in all areas of European Union activity. It requires rather professional knowledge of the target language in order to be used properly. It is a very useful tool for professional translators while not being wholly suitable for the general public, judicial authorities or legal professionals. Therefore, the translations of expressions and phrases are entered by the translators themselves to create new references or supplement existing ones. Suggestions for translations are provided for several, but not in all, official languages of the European Union.

Access to this database is free of charge.

Dictionary of synonyms

EUROVOC Thesaurus

Link opens in new windowEUROVOC is a multilingual thesaurus (compilation of comparative multilingual vocabulary) covering the fields in which the European Union is active. It provides a means of indexing the documents in the documentation systems of the European institutions and of their users.

This thesaurus exists in 23 official languages of the European Union.


VJM is a collection of multilingual terminological data records and multi-systems (more than 23 languages and 30 EU legal systems) resulting from comprehensive research work on comparative law done by the lawyer-linguists of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

It contains at present approx. 650 multilingual terminological data records (20.000 terms) pertaining to the domains of family law, immigration law and, in the near future, criminal law. All the data records are available through the terminological database Link opens in new windowIATE.

The VJM's terminological data records have very detailed information such as definitions (adapted to each legal system), notes on comparative law, legal references (legislation, case law, doctrine of national, EU and international legal systems), the different designations of a concept (in the same language and sometimes different according to the legal systems), a clear indication of the origin of a term (functional equivalent or formulation —paraphrase), warnings (false legal friends, risk of confusion, obsolete terms), concept trees allowing to see at a glance the semantic relationships between concepts, etc.

This page is maintained by the European Commission. The information on this page does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Commission. The Commission accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever with regard to any information or data contained or referred to in this document. Please refer to the legal notice with regard to copyright rules for European pages.

Last update: 27/11/2015