The Government of Canada’s terminology and linguistic data bank.
Frequently asked questions
List of changes and improvements
- New look in line with the new Government of Canada Web standards set by the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
- Adaptative for all mobile devices: consequently, the ourlanguages.gc.ca on the go! application will not be updated anymore (note: using an outdated version of a browser may cause display problems).
- Easier access to search keys.
- Improved subject field sorting option (pre- and post-search).
- Display options always accessible.
- The alphabetical list of terms (Index) is not displayed by default; it is still accessible by clicking the Alphabetical List of Terms button located above the search results.
- Records containing data from external organizations are now identified with green.
- Interface menu always accessible at the bottom of the page.
- Search strings more visible (now highlighted) in the results.
- You can now submit suggestions.
- Simplified FAQ (replaces the Help function).
- Links to the Language Portal and Writing Tools at the bottom of the page.
- Magnifying glass icon to access sources on terminology records.
Questions and answers
What types of information are displayed on a record?
A standard record includes a creation date, linguistic components (English and French and sometimes Spanish or Portuguese, which you can display according to your preferences), one or more subject fields, entries, parameters, textual supports, key terms and sources.
Entries (terms) indicate the concept covered by the record. In principle, the preferred term is displayed first followed by synonyms, spelling variants and abbreviations.
Parameters are uppercase letters located following terms, providing information on the equivalent. They indicate, among other things, the correctness of the term, its gender and usage, the country or region where it is used and its official status, if applicable. Here are the parameters (by category) and each one’s meaning:
- A parameter indicating that the author is certain, based on research and personal knowledge, that the entry term is accepted by specialists in the field and that it can be used freely to designate a particular concept, taking into account relevant information provided on the record. In the case of an official title, this parameter indicates the official and fixed status of the title; it is assigned on the basis of the official written sources cited on the record.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term, for one reason or another, is not recommended or is unacceptable to some authors, specialists or organizations.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term (a title) is used, but is not officially approved.
- NO RATING:
- No rating indicates that either the terminologist could not say whether it is correct to use the entry term in a particular subject field or that no terminologist has determined the correctness of the entry term.
- FORMER NAME:
- A parameter indicating that the entry term was used at one time and that, as a result of a decision made by a competent authority, it has been replaced by another name.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is no longer or is barely understood today and is no longer used in everyday written or spoken language, except for stylistic effect.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term, widely used in the past to designate a given concept and still comprehensible today, is no longer in general use.
- CAS NO.:
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a number assigned to a chemical by the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS).
- CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM CODE:
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is the code of a specific classification system (except occupational codes).
- FORM CODE:
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a code given to a form by an organization.
- ISO/IEC 2382 ITEM NO.:
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is the number of an entry in the Information Technology - Vocabulary (ISO/IEC 2382 standard). (ISO: International Organization for Standardization; IEC: International Electrotechnical Commission).
- OCCUPATIONAL CODE:
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a military occupational code, a National Occupational Classification (NOC) code or the code of another occupational classification system.
- PUBLICATION CODE:
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a publication code (military or other), for example, a STANAG (NATO standardization agreement), AXP (allied exercise publication), AWP (allied weather publication) or ISO standards publication code.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a chemical, physics or mathematical formula.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a Latin term, regardless of the subject field in which it is used. Latin terms are used in many fields. They are used as names of plant species such as Paeonia arborea, as names of animal species such as Homo sapiens, as medical and veterinary terms, namely anatomical terms such as auricula, as legal terms such as de facto, as economic terms such as per annum, as religious terms such as viaticum and as proverbs such as Anguis in herba.
- LEGAL ORIGIN:
- Parameters indicating that the entry term comes from a specific federal or provincial act or regulation, i.e. the term was found exclusively in the referenced act or regulation. (They are therefore not used for terms found in several acts or regulations.) The legal origin parameters are the following:
- FEDERAL ACT
- MANITOBA ACT
- NEW BRUNSWICK ACT
- ONTARIO ACT
- QUEBEC ACT
- FEDERAL REGULATIONS
- MANITOBA REGULATIONS
- NEW BRUNSWICK REGULATIONS
- ONTARIO REGULATIONS
- QUEBEC REGULATIONS
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a trademark, business name, brand name or other patented designation for a product, process, etc.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term was proposed as an equivalent by a terminologist, a translator, a specialist or another person, and not found in a written source.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a symbol used in typography, mathematics, physics, chemistry, measures, etc. For example, Å for Angstrom, l or L for litre, Na for sodium or β for beta.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term contains an element of the English language which is used incorrectly in another language. For example, when the term “DNA” is used in French instead of ADN as an abbreviation of acide désoxyribonucléique, it is an anglicism.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is incorrectly constructed or coined, or that it is used to express a meaning contrary to standard usage. For example, when the term réouvrir is used in French instead of rouvrir), it is a barbarism.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is the literal translation of a word or an expression. For example, “close the light” (instead of “turn off the light”) is a calque of the French expression fermer la lumière. Moreover, être dans l’eau bouillante (instead of être dans de beaux draps) is a calque of the English expression “to be in hot water”.
- DECEPTIVE COGNATE:
- A parameter indicating that although the entry term resembles a word in another language, it does not have the same meaning. For example, the terms “appointment” in English and appointement in French differ in meaning.
- A parameter indicating that words in the entry term result in a repetition of ideas, for example, “to predict in advance” or “to return back to”.
- SEE OBS (see observation):
- A parameter indicating that a comment provides information required to understand the entry term or information on the limited use of the entry term.
Parts of speech
Note: A homograph is a word which has the same spelling as another word, but a different meaning.
- ADJ (adjective):
- A parameter used solely to distinguish an adjective, for example, the English adjective “psychotic” (meaning “detached from reality”) from a homograph which differs grammatically, for example, the English noun “psychotic” (meaning “person who has a psychosis”).
- ADV (adverb):
- A parameter used solely to distinguish an adverb, for example, the English adverb “daily” (meaning “occurring every day”), from a homograph which differs grammatically, for example, the English noun “daily” (meaning “daily newspaper”).
- A parameter indicating that the entry is used as the first element in compound words, for example, “femto-.”
- A parameter used to indicate that the entry is the last element in compound words, for example, “-algy.”
- ADJ. PHRASE (adjective phrase):
- A parameter used solely to distinguish a group of words used adjectivally from a group of words which differs grammatically. It would be used, for example, to distinguish the French expression à la nage which plays the role of an adjective in préparation à la nage (meaning “cooked in a court-bouillon”) from the identical French expression à la nage which plays the role of an adverb in traverser à la nage (meaning “to swim across”).
- ADV. PHRASE (adverb phrase):
- A parameter used solely to distinguish a group of words used adverbially from a group of words which differs grammatically. It would be used, for example, to distinguish the French expression à la nage which plays the role of an adverb in traverser à la nage (“to swim across”) from the identical French expression à la nage which plays the role of an adjective in préparation à la nage (meaning “cooked in a court-bouillon”).
- NOUN PHRASE:
- A parameter used solely to distinguish a group of words used as a noun from a group of words which differs grammatically.
- VERB PHRASE:
- A parameter used solely to distinguish a group of words used as a verb from a group of words which differs grammatically.
- A parameter used solely to distinguish a noun, for example, the noun “variable,” from a homograph which differs grammatically, for example, the adjective “variable.”
- A parameter used solely to distinguish a verb, for example, the verb (to) “checkmate,” from a homograph which differs grammatically, for example, the noun “checkmate.”
- FEM (feminine):
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a noun belonging to the feminine gender.
- MASC (masculine):
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is a noun belonging to the masculine gender.
- MASC/FEM (masculine/feminine):
- A parameter indicating that the form of the entry term, which is a noun, does not vary with gender (i.e. the term is an epicene). For example, the following French terms can be either masculine or feminine, depending on the gender of the person being referred to: acrobate (acrobat), concierge (concierge), élève (student), enfant (child), terminologue (terminologist).
- INVAR (invariable):
- A parameter indicating that neither the form nor the ending of the entry term changes and that the spelling of the word remains the same in the singular or plural form, for example, the French term pays is identical whether the term is singular or plural.
- PLUR (plural):
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is plural and that it must be plural in order to designate the concept or to ensure correct usage, for example, “scissors.”
In the case of official titles, these parameters identify the corresponding geographic location or territorial scope. In the other cases, these parameters are used to delimit the region where a term or expression is used.
- Examples of geographic parameters:
- AFRICA, ANTARCTICA, CANADA, FRANCE, GREAT BRITAIN, LATIN AMERICA, MEXICO, NEW BRUNSWICK, SPAIN, USA.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term was adopted by NATO.
- INTERGOV (intergovernmental):
- A parameter indicating that the entry term that is a proper name covers various levels of government within a country. This would apply, for example, to names of agreements made between the federal government of Canada and the provincial government of one or more Canadian provinces.
- INTERNAT (international):
- A parameter indicating that the entry term, which is a proper name, such as “United Nations,” applies to more than one country.
- A parameter used with another geographical parameter to indicate that the entry term applies to a region within the area represented by that other geographical parameter. For example, REGIONAL would be added to the geographical parameter AFRICA to indicate that the English term “arki” is used in a region of Africa.
- LESS FREQ (less frequent):
- A parameter indicating that the entry term is less frequently used than another entry term, but is not rare. In other words, it indicates that the term is sometimes used to designate the concept described on the record.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term, in comparison to another entry term, is used only exceptionally to designate the concept described on the record. For example, “D.N.A.” is rarely used as the abbreviation of deoxyribonucleic acid in comparison to “DNA.”
- A parameter distinguishing an entry term used in an informal context (i.e. a conversation, an unofficial document, etc.) from a term used in a formal context to express the same idea.
- A parameter distinguishing an entry term used only by a small group of persons, for example, specialists in a particular scientific or technical field, from a more common term used by a lay person to designate the same concept.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term has a broader meaning than that of its equivalent in another language.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term has an unfavourable connotation.
- A parameter indicating that the entry term has a narrower meaning than that of its equivalent in another language.
Official status parameters
- Parameter indicating that the entry term is recommended by a standardizing body.
- OFFICIALLY APPROVED:
- A parameter indicating that, for the sake of uniformity, the entry term has been adopted for internal use by an administrative unit (section, department, organization, etc.).
The textual supports DEF (definition), CONT (context), OBS (observation) and PHR (phraseologism) provide the definition of the term, an example of the term in a text fragment, terminology, linguistic or technical information, or common combination of a term with a noun, adjective or verb, respectively.
Key terms to help find a record are sometimes included at the bottom of records. These are terms other than those in the entries section of a record, but which are directly related to the concept. They can be spelling or semantic variants, or masculine, feminine, singular or plural forms of the term, or cases of inversion of terms or different formulations (incorrect or outdated) of the concept. If you search using a Words or Terms option, it will also search in the key terms field.
Designations that are common to all languages are recorded as universal entries. Among other things, mathematical symbols, chemical formulas, Latin terms in biology or law, as well as form codes are presented in this field.
At the bottom of some records, you will see a Complementary document button. Click it to display documents providing information to supplement the textual support (definition, observation, etc.).
How do I change my display options?
By default, the English, French and Spanish components are displayed in this order on records and in columns. To change your preferences, click the Display options button (upper right corner of the TERMIUM Plus® home page). For example, if you want to hide the Spanish column, you can select Neither under Option to display the non-official languages (Spanish or Portuguese). This will give you more space for the information displayed in English and in French. When you have finished, click Save my Display Options. You can return to your default display options at any time by clicking Display Options, then Reset to Initial Default Values.
If you wish to hide the textual supports in the records, under Display definitions, contexts, etc., on records select Deactivate display, then click on Save my display options.
How do I do a basic search in TERMIUM Plus®?
Enter the term (which may include one or more words) in the Which term? box. Launch the search by pressing the blue Launch button or Enter.
Records are displayed one after the other starting with the most recent record. The number of results is limited to the 100 most recent records.
What are the Which term? and In which subject field? boxes for?
By default, the TERMIUM Plus® search engine searches in All Terms and in All Fields, in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. For example, if we type “report,” the search engine will search for the term in the main entries for these four languages, whatever the field, regardless of the languages you have selected to display.
In addition to selecting display options for languages that we want to display on the screen, we can modify the search parameters in Which term? and In which subject field? This is intended to either limit or increase the number of results (or the records obtained). You can return to your default display options at any time by clicking on Display Options, then on Reset to Initial Default Values.
Which term? box
Terms in one language (exact term)
- In one language only:
- Instead of searching in All terms, you can choose to search in English terms, French terms, Spanish terms or Portuguese terms. When you check one or other of these options, the engine will search main entries only in the language selected.
- It is always preferable to specify the language of origin of the term sought. For example, if you are looking for the French equivalent of English terms like “formation” or “report,” it is useful to choose the option English terms. In this way, the engine will limit its search to English entries only. Were you to choose the All terms option, it would search all records. For terms like formation or record, choosing this option would generate too many results, some of them irrelevant, since these words exist in both English and French, though not necessarily with the same meanings in both.
- Exact term:
- In searching by Exact term, the engine searches entries where the term sought appears exactly as entered (ignoring stop words, special characters and hyphens). For example, if the term sought is “information officer,” it will find entries where the entry term is exactly that string of words and no more. To learn how to search for a term containing a special character, see the paragraph on special characters under the What can I do if no records are found for my search? section.
Words in English, French, Spanish or Portuguese
If you want to find all records in which two words (or more) appear in the entry, but not necessarily in a specific order, choose one of the “Search by word” options, depending on the language: Words in English terms, Words in French terms, Words in Spanish terms or Words in Portuguese terms. For example, if you type “information officer,” using the Words in English terms search option, the system will find all records containing the words “information” and “officer” in English entries. However, the two words will not necessarily appear contiguously or in order. Thus, you may obtain records containing the entry “Chief Information Officer or officer in tactical command information exchange system” in English entries, as well as records containing only the words “information” and “officer.” This option generates more records than does a search by exact term.
Words in Definitions and Contexts
This option allows you to search for words, but only for words in textual supports (definitions, contexts, observations and phraseologisms) in the selected language. This can be useful for finding definitions of terms or examples of how they are used, yielding a better grasp of the concept. Here too, the words sought may not necessarily appear contiguously or in order in the records found.
English, French, Spanish or Portuguese Records
This option allows you to search terms in a single language, i.e. only in English records, French records, Spanish records or Portuguese records. The engine searches in all parts of records: entries (head terms, spelling variants, synonyms, abbreviations and key terms) and in textual support (definitions, contexts, observations and phraseologisms). This option necessarily generates more results than does a search by term or by word.
This option allows you to search for terms not only in all parts of record, but in all four languages. Thus, the system will look for the term in entries (head terms, spelling variants, synonyms, abbreviations and key terms) and in textual supports (definitions, contexts, observations and phraseologisms), regardless of language. If a record in your results does not seem to contain your search string, try modifying your display options to show Spanish or Portuguese.
In which subject field? box
For each concept or term, there are one or more subject fields. In the record, the primary subject field appears at the head of the list (e.g. Cycling for the term “air tube”). The other fields shown are generally applications (or sub-fields; e.g. Wheels and Tires), but the term may also be associated with other fields (e.g. Motorized Sports).
First, you can search in All fields, then, if you get too many results, limit the search by clicking on Filter results by subject field, and selecting a subject field that may apply. You can also type in the term sought and right away select a subject field (only one at a time). A search by subject field can be done either before or after launching the search. However, it is often preferable to run an All fields search first, since limiting yourself at the outset to a single field may result in relevant records being overlooked.
- Which term? box
What is the Alphabetical list of terms button for?
It can sometimes be useful, after researching a term, to consult the alphabetical list of terms. To do this, click on the black Alphabetical list of terms button; the list will be displayed on the left. For example, entering “airflow” in the Which term? box yields fewer than ten records, yet the alphabetical list of terms shows that there are many terms starting with this word (“airflow control,” “airflow pattern,” “airflow rate,” etc). Clicking on Previous or Next brings up the preceding or following series of entries in the list.
Usually, the alphabetical list of terms displays only the English and French terms. However, if you set your display options to show a third language, the terms in that language will also be included in the alphabetical list of terms.
What can I do when no records are found for my search?
- Check the search option selected (Which term? button); make sure that the language selected is that of the search term.
- Check the spelling of the search term.
- When searching in English, enter the Canadian, British and US forms.
- Search singular and then plural forms.
- Search masculine then feminine forms.
- Search synonyms and spelling variants of the term.
- Vary the order of the search words. For example, check both “optical laser disc” and “laser optical disc.”
- Consult the alphabetical list of terms for the preceding or following terms in case they yield a clue.
- Change the language in the search options and search for likely equivalents in the target language. Example: If mesure d’accommodement in French terms produces no result, try accommodation in English terms.
- Break expressions down. For example, to find an equivalent for “interlocking paving tile,” query “interlocking paving” and “paving tile.”
- Redo the search for the term or words making up the expression, this time searching by Words or by Records rather than by Terms.
- Use wild cards (* or ?) and Boolean operators (+ , !) to refine your search.
- Type the words for the search with the obligatory characters (if any), with or without stop words, hyphens or accents. For example, to find the record for “ready-to-wear,” you need only type “ready wear” (since “to” is a stop word).
See below for information on wild cards, Boolean operators, stop words, obligatory characters and special characters.
- Wild cards used with the Terms (exact match) search keys:
- Wild cards are used to find variants of a term. They can be inserted anywhere in the expression queried except as the first character for the question mark (?) and in the first four characters for the asterisk (*). They are used without spaces.
- The asterisk (*) stands for one or more successive characters. At least four characters have to be entered before an asterisk. For example, entering “cabinet*affairs” in English terms yields records such as “Cabinet Committee on Domestic affairs,” “Cabinet Committee on Aboriginal Affairs,” etc.
- The question mark (?) replaces a single character in a term (but not an obligatory character). For example, entering “ca?e” in English terms produces records for “cape,” “case,” “cage,” etc.
- Wild Cards used with the Words in Terms, Words in Definitions and Contexts, and Records search keys:
- They are used without spaces.
- The asterisk (*) stands for one or more successive characters. At least four characters have to be entered before an asterisk. The asterisk can be inserted between two words. For example, entering “cabinet*affairs” in Words in English terms yields records that begin with “cabinet” and end with “affairs” such as “Cabinet Committee on Domestic affairs,” “Cabinet Committee on Aboriginal Affairs,” etc. It will also include records documenting terms containing the word “cabinet” followed by “affairs” somewhere in the term such as “Cabinet Committee on Foreign Affairs and Security,” “Cabinet Affairs Unit,” “Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet, Regulatory Affairs and Orders in Council,” etc.
- The question mark (?) replaces a single character in a term (but not an obligatory character). It can be inserted anywhere in the expression except as the first character. For example, entering “ca?e” in Words in English terms produces records for terms containing words such as “cafe,” “case,” “cage,” among others. For example, “sling cage.”
Note: Neither an asterisk (*) nor a question mark (?) can be combined with a Boolean operator. An asterisk (*) and a question mark (?) cannot be used together.
Boolean operators (or logical operators) allow for searches to be broadened or for certain terms to be excluded. They are used in searches by Word or by Record only. There is no space either before or after an operator.
Boolean operators cannot be combined with wild cards.
- AND [+]:
- the engine searches records containing the words entered, regardless of order. For example, entering “communication+officer” yields terms like “Chief Executive Officer Canada Communication Group.”
- OR [,]:
- the engine searches records containing at least one of the words entered. For example, entering “disc,disk” turns up records containing “disc” or “disk” or both words.
- AND NOT [!]:
- the engine excludes records containing the word following the operator. For example, entering “corporate+policy!planning” will produce records containing “corporate” and “policy,” but not “planning.”
Terms containing wild cards or Boolean operators
The search engine cannot always find records whose entries contain characters that are also used as substitutes (asterisk or question mark) or as Boolean operators (plus sign, comma or exclamation mark); this is particularly true for the names of chemical substances. To obtain records matching these terms, use the Terms (exact term) option, omit these characters or replace them with spaces. For example:
- The record “What About SchoolNet?” will be found by entering “What About SchoolNet,” leaving off the question mark.
Stop words are words or characters that do not need to be entered to get results, since the engine does not take them into account in the search. They are replaced by spaces. For example, to find the equivalent of the English term “Declaration on Refugee Protection for Women,” you can type “declaration refugee protection women” using the English terms option.
- In French:
- a, au, aux, avec, d, dans, de, des, donc, du, en, et, l, la, le, les, ni, ou, par, pour, sur, un, une
- In English:
- a, an, and, at, but, by, for, from, in, nor, of, on, or, s, the, to, with
- In Spanish:
- a, al, con, de, del, e, el, en, la, las, lo, los, ni, o, para, por, u, un, una, uno, y
- In Portuguese:
- a, da, das, de, do, dos, e, em, o, ou, para, sobre, um, uma
If the term in question contains one of the following characters, it must be entered for the search engine to be able to find the corresponding records: underscore (_), equal sign (=) and the digits 0 to 9. For example, “H2O feedback.”
To find a term that contains a special character, like “liquid ß-radioactive waste,” you could type “liquid*radioactive waste” (using the asterisk as a wild card) or type “liquid beta radioactive waste.” You can also enter a special character by using the code for it. For example, to enter the “β” in “liquid β-radioactive waste,” use the ALT+0946 code.
What is the magnifying glass immediately following the entries or textual support on a record for?
The magnifying glass gives access to the origin (source) of the entry term or its textual support (definition, context, observations, etc). This source may be a document, a Web site or a person.
What is the grey Search History button for?
TERMIUM Plus® saves the terms found during a session. You can click on the grey Search history button (under the Which term? box) to see the list of terms previously found. You just have to click on a term to renew the search. Either the whole list or individual records in it can be deleted using the garbage can icon.
What is the grey Saved Records button for?
TERMIUM Plus® allows you to save the results of your searches and print records individually.
The Save record button in the top right corner of each record is used to copy the content of a record into a separate window of the navigator. To see the records saved, click on the grey Saved Records button (under the Which term? box).
How do I print a record?
Search results can be printed directly from the screen or by using the Saved Records button. In either case, you just have to click on File and Print in your browser’s menu (or press Ctrl-P, then Print).
What is the grey Suggestions button for?
The Suggestions button allows you to submit your comments or suggest changes to a record.
Can I add a shortcut to the application on my mobile device’s home screen?
Yes, you can add a shortcut to your mobile device’s home screen for quick access to the application.
First, from your mobile device’s web browser, go to the application’s home screen. Then, since the procedure for adding a shortcut varies for different types of mobile devices, we recommend that you read the user manual for your device.
Once you have added the shortcut, the icon will appear on your device’s home screen, allowing you quick access to the application.
What can I do if the pages are not displaying properly?
If you usually browse in compatibility mode, try changing your browser’s compatibility view settings (under Tools in IE 11).
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