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IATE – Europe’s Terminology Database

IATE (Interactive Terminology for Europe) is the EU’s terminology database. It is the result of a project that was launched in 1999 and completed in 2004. The database was made available to the public in 2007. It is a collation of all EU terminology resources and has improved both the availability and the standardisation of information.

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Who can access and use IATE?

IATE terminology

IATE was initially created to help translators working for the EU. But since the public have been able to access the database, it has proved extremely useful to language service providers (LSPs) and is a valuable resource for the public. IATE is free to access, and it isn’t necessary to set up an account to take advantage of the information it provides. However, it is certainly beneficial for frequent users to create an account as this will enable them to store their preferences and to export extracts.

How has the data been sourced?

Some of the data for IATE has been provided by external contractors. Most has been entered by translators working for European Union institutions. The following legacy databases have also been added over the years:

European terminology IATE

Eurodicautom (European Commission – DG Translation)

TIS (Council of the European Union)

Euterpe (European Parliament)

Euroterms (Translation Centre for the Bodies of the EU)

CDCTERM (European Court of Auditors)

CuriaTerm (Court of Justice of the European Union)

Lithos (European Commission – DG Interpretation)

Translators and terminologists can enter any terms to IATE that they believe to be useful and as the need for them arises. Data entry is also proactive in that when the EU or associated institutions become aware that a particular subject will be covered in texts, the related terminology is researched and added.

Has IATE been updated since it was launched?

IATE is continually updated with new databases and terminology. The quality of the data is also continually addressed. Terminologists regularly remove duplicates and low-quality data from IATE. Numerous duplicate entries have arisen as the databases of many institutions were initially added without being cross-checked.

The IATE database must be updated regularly to encompass terminology relating to new domains. As technologies are developed, innovations appear and previously unforeseen events occur, the newly evolved terminology is added to IATE. For instance, Covid-19 has resulted in IATE being updated with 270 multilingual entries incorporating over 9,000 terms relating to the pandemic.

In addition, a complete rebuild of the system was completed in November 2018. The new version of IATE incorporates the latest technology and is now a more accessible and user-friendly resource boasting greater functionality.

What is the scope of IATE?


The database encompasses only the 24 official languages of the European Union and Latin. It features over 8 million terms and more than 500,000 abbreviations and it continues to grow. The data has been collated to meet the needs of translators. This means that terminology relating to any domain (subject area) that has featured in EU texts will have been added to the database. Domains such as the financial crisis and climate change have led to extensive updates to IATE.

Is IATE a dictionary?

IATE is not a dictionary, it is a database of terminology. It is not possible to use the database to translate anything other than terminology – the jargon of a specific field. For instance, you will not be able to find translations for adjectives such as “exciting” or “colourful” or many words from everyday speech. But you can translate terms such as “Credit crunch” and “subprime mortgages”.

Unlike a dictionary, IATE can have different entries for the same term. In a dictionary, all meanings of a word or phrase will be listed together in a single entry. For example, the word “ball” will have one entry with the meanings “spherical object used in sport”, “dance event” and “squeeze or form (something) into a rounded shape” listed in that entry. But IATE is a concept-based resource and the terms featured have separate entries for each domain or concept that they are used in.

How reliable is IATE?

The quality of the data varies as some entries are old and haven’t been properly checked. Data that has been added recently will usually have been extensively researched and therefore will be more reliable. EU terminologists are continuing to work on improving the data. Any terms accompanied by definitions, references and additional information can generally be trusted but users of IATE must exercise caution and use their own judgement in assessing whether to rely on the translations returned by the system.

Who is responsible for IATE?


IATE was developed by the Translation Centre in Luxembourg and is hosted by the European Commission. It is managed by the IATE Management Group, a working party which features one member per institution or body. But the database is the shared responsibility of all EU Institutions that are or have been involved in the project. These include the European Parliament, the Council of the EU, the Court of Justice and the European Central Bank.

Can IATE data be downloaded and used in CAT tools?

The IATE database became available for download in 2014. Since then, an extraction tool has been made available and this enables translators to produce subsets of one or more languages and specific domains. The outputs are in TBX format which cannot be handled by CAT Tools. The sheer size of the IATE database has always been an obstacle to creating databases that can be used by CAT tools. While the extraction tool does largely address the size issue, it remains a challenging task to create useable databases.

How important is IATE?

While issues remain with IATE including unreliable and duplicate entries, the database is an important resource primarily because it unifies terminology. IATE is an evolving database that will continue to grow and improve over time. Crucially, it is available to all and is free to use.

Terminology Summit in Iceland

Word Connection is proud to be attending the forthcoming Pan-European terminology summit in March. Terminology experts from across the world will be travelling to Iceland to present and discuss the challenges, solutions and benefits of sharing terminology.

Tackling important issues and featuring presentations by highly-regarded speakers, the summit provides valuable insight into our industry. Participation is free of charge, if you’d like to join us.


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