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Short Description

A Term is a word or phrase (i.e.: text) that is used in at least one scope/context to represent a specific concept. As a consequence:

  • a single term may (and typically does) have different meanings (semantics) in different scopes/contexts. For example, in the context of a beauty-salon, the term 'nail' has a different meaning than in the context of constructing buildings.
  • different terms (in the same, or different scopes/contexts) may have the same meaning (i.e. represent the same concept (synonymity, alias).

The precise meaning of a term thus depends on the scope/context in which it is used. We use the phrase scoped term to refer to a term in a particular scope/context, and hence is part of the terminology of that scope, and means whatever concept it represents in that scope

The terminology pattern provides an overview of how this concept fits in with related concepts.


Understanding words or phrases uttered by others requires that we are able to 'translate' them terms into terms that we habitually use. While this is mostly an automatism, and it often is not necessary to be all that precise, this may be different when they relate to stuff we find important. The ability to represent a specific concept with a specific text or phrase, where this 'representation' is limited to a specific (or several) context(s), helps us to better interpret these words, which is: to properly understand what others actually try to convey in spoken or written language. After all, as Confucius said: "The whole end of speech is to be understood."


A term MUST be a word or phrase (i.e.: text) that is part of at least one scope/context, and for all scopes/contexts of which it is a part, a scoped term must exist that


There is an important distinction between concepts and the (multitude of) terms (names, labels) that we need to be able to talk and reason (argue) about them. Please consider that

  • different terms are used in different contexts for representing a single concept;
  • in different contexts, a single term may represent different concepts
  • to resolve terminological disputes, which usually are about the 'correct' meaning of a term, try to establish the criteria that the different participants use for the concept behind the term. That helps participants understand each others (different) positions, and provides a better basis for resolving the conflict.