From Latin glossarium, the glossary it’s a word catalog of oneself discipline or from a field of study, which appears defined, explained or commented on. It is also a catalog of unusual words or the set of comments and glosses on an author’s texts.

A set of glosses

The concept is used to refer to the set of glosses, which are small annotations that are made to explain the meaning or the context in which a word is used within a text. In general, those books that deal with specific topics of a subject (scientific, religious, etc.) add a glossary at the end of the same where certain terms are listed for which their meaning may not have been understood; in this way readers can understand the text in a broader way.


A glossary is an ordered catalog of words, which appear with their definition or explanation.

The glossary is usually added at the end of a book or an encyclopedia, by way of complement of the main information. For example: a novel that deals with religious matters may include several Latin terms. The glossary, therefore, will include the explanation of these terms. In this way, the reader will be able to understand more precisely the meaning of the text.

It is common today, therefore, to find a book that contains at the end of an annex that consists of a set of “rare” words that have appeared during reading and that are rarely used together with their meaning. Sometimes these terms are from another language or belong to an ancient language or idioms of a certain place. For example, in a gaucho story the meanings of certain lunfardo words related to that historical period usually appear and that out of context we could not understand and would make the understanding of said text more difficult.

Glossary types

Glossaries are written by specialists but are aimed at a wider audience (that is, their goal is to transcend the circle of people who specialize in a subject). It is assumed that the subject educated in a certain field does not need an additional explanation about the words used. A neophyte, on the other hand, needs the glossary as support to understand the contents.


Glossaries are similar to dictionaries, although there are differences.

There are glossaries for the most diverse fields and fields. A environmental glossary will include the explanation of terms such as ecology, recycling and sustainable. A computer glossaryInstead, it will explain concepts such as computer, hardware, software and Internet.

It is worth mentioning that according to the subject matter A text or article will include in its glossary terms not only that appear in it, but also that they can contribute extra knowledge and annotations to the reader, the job of the glossers is to know how to choose which are the most relevant and interesting words of the term that deserve the worth being included in the annex to instruct the readers.

Differences from dictionaries

While a glossary is not the same as a dictionary, These in the beginning resembled the glossaries and from there derives the association that is established between the two to this day.

The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) defines the dictionary as the book in which voices of a specific language or subject are collected and explained, in an orderly manner (usually alphabetically); where there is no classification by subject or relationships are established with the rest of the words belonging to it.

In ancient times the glossers were those who were dedicated to the collection of obscure terms or with meanings that were not so common and making annotations on them that would allow a better understanding of the texts. Based on this utility, later dictionaries were created, more extensive but whose purpose is similar, to provide knowledge about the meaning of words.