Finding the right term in the EU’s terminology database

Finding the right term in the EU’s terminology database

A translator uses various types of glossaries, terminology databases and other tools on a daily basis to get help with specialist terminology within various subject areas, but many others could also benefit from these tools. Many of us sometimes read or write about things outside our field of expertise, or read materials written in foreign languages. In these cases, a terminology database can come in handy.

Published 9/14/2015

IATE – a useful terminology database

One large publicly accessible term database is IATE. IATE stands for InterActive Terminology for Europe, and is the EU’s own terminology database. IATE is used within EU institutions and bodies to ensure common terminology, but is also available as an open source of reference material for anyone who wants to use it.

Work started on IATE in 1999. The database has been in use since 2004, and is continually being expanded with more terms and languages. A number of earlier sources have now been incorporated, such as Eurodicatom, TIS, Euterpe, Euroterms and CDCTERM.

1.4 million terms and 25 languages

IATE currently contains around 1.4 million items in 25 EU languages. In other words, it gives you access to a wealth of reference material. Not all terms are available in all languages yet, but with such an extensive terminology database within all EU subject areas, IATE is an extremely useful resource.

Industries and subject areas

You can look up terms within a wide range of subject areas such as pharmacokinetics, sector adjustment loans, nuclear safety, land value maps and electrolytic dissociation. The database currently includes the following main subject areas:

  • Politics
  • International relations
  • The European Union
  • Law
  • Economics
  • Trade
  • Finance
  • Social questions
  • Education and communications
  • Science
  • Business and competition
  • Employment and working conditions
  • Transport
  • Environment
  • Agriculture, forestry and fisheries
  • Agri-foodstuffs
  • Production, technology and research
  • Energy
  • Industry
  • Geography
  • International organisations
Here is an example of the results when searching for the word ”water quality" in the database: 


On the right-hand side of the screen are icons indicating reliability, sources and any comments. You can click on these icons for more information.

Find out more

The IATE brochure is available in all official EU languages. Click here.


Do you ever feel that you can’t quite find the right word in French or German? Do you sometimes read a text and come across an unfamiliar phrase? You can always check to see if the term is in IATE – the chances are that it is!

Looking for more useful links? Our post Which languages should I translate my website into? includes links with facts about languages, population numbers and ROI for translated websites.

Latest blogposts