Finding the right word - about terms

Last changed: 20 October 2023

The grammar police are here to help! Get writing tips for English and Swedish in our regular language column.

”Bad terminology is the enemy of good thinking.” (Warren Buffett).

Terms are the building blocks of specialised, field-specific texts. For a text to be useful, you need to use terms that are well defined, and you need to use them consistently.

There are plenty of terminological resources on the web that can be of help. Below you will find a selection.

Our own SLU glossary is where we collect SLU-specific terminology you may need when you write about our university.

The glossary of the Swedish Council for Higher Education contains administrative terminology in the field of higher education, in Swedish and English. The glossary is updated once a year. Most of the content of this glossary is also included in the SLU glossary.

Rikstermbanken is Sweden’s national term bank. It contains concepts and terms from a large number of fields. Most of the content is in Swedish, but you will also find terminology in several of Sweden’s national minority languages as well as English, French, German and Russian.

Iate (Interactive Terminology for Europe) is the joint terminology database of the European Union institutions. It covers several fields and is particularly useful if you are writing about EU-related subjects.

Many international organisations publish terminology within their field. One example is the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO. Their term portal covers a large number of subjects in all the UN languages (Arabic, English, Spanish, French, Russian and Chinese).

Standards contain definitions of key concepts, and multilingual standards are good sources of terminology. If, for example, you are writing about environmental management, you will find many concepts defined and translated in the bilingual ISO 14001:2015, available via the SLU Library.

Some public authorities also publish terminology within their fields. One example is the bilingual (Swedish/English) glossary of the Swedish Board of Agriculture with terminology related to, for example, slaughter and feed (interface in Swedish only).

Do you have a favourite terminology resource that could be of use to others? Send an email to sprakkoordinator@slu.se and we’ll include it on the staff web page on language tools.

Published March 2018.