What is IATE?

IATE stands for InterActive Terminology for Europe. It’s the shared terminology database of the institutions of the European Union. Its main aim is to facilitate the task of the translators working for the EU, but will hopefully also be useful for other EU staff and for the public in general.

Who enters the data in IATE?

The data in IATE is mostly entered by the translators and terminologists of the various language services of the institutions of the European Union. Some of the data is provided by external sources in the framework of contracts.

Who is responsible for IATE?

IATE is:

How many terms and entries are there in IATE?

There are at present about 8.6 million terms in IATE, distributed through approximately 1.4 million entries.

What do the language codes stand for?

BG Bulgarian
CS Czech
DA Danish
DE German
EL Greek
EN English
ES Spanish
ET Estonian
FI Finnish
FR French
GA Irish
HR Croatian
HU Hungarian
IT Italian
LA Latin*
LT Lithuanian
LV Latvian
MT Maltese
MUL Multilingual**
NL Dutch
PL Polish
PT Portuguese
RO Romanian
SK Slovak
SL Slovenian
SV Swedish

* Latin is used mostly for taxonomy (scientific names of plants and animals), but also for legal expressions and other purposes.

** "Multilingual" is used to enter things like codes and formulas that are the same across all languages (for instance, CO2).

What domains does the terminology in IATE cover?

IATE mostly reflects the needs of the translators of the European Union, so any domain that has appeared or is likely to appear in our texts could be covered. Recent domains that have been extensively covered include the financial crisis, the environment, fisheries and migration. The domain classification system used for IATE entries is the EuroVoc thesaurus.

How reliable are the terms in IATE?

It depends. Some of the material in IATE is very old and has never been properly checked, so its quality is bound to be lower than we would like. Some of the material is recent and results from extensive research on the part of terminologists and from the consultation of experts. And, of course, there is a lot in between those extremes.

It is therefore important that you assess each solution on its merits. A simple term, with a low reliability value and no additional information, probably shouldn't be taken at face value. On the other hand, a term accompanied by a definition and supported by reliable references and other additional metadata is something you can probably trust. Use your own judgement and these clues to assess the reliability of the terms.

Why are there so many duplicate entries for the same concept?

A long time ago, each institution had its own terminology database. In 2004, the contents of all these databases were brought together in IATE. This explains the large number of duplicates. We are working hard to improve the situation.

What are EU terminologists doing to improve the quality of the data?

Terminologists regularly merge and delete duplicates and work on so-called “consolidation” projects to get rid of data that is duplicated or of low quality. However, the large number of such terms and entries  and the limited number of staff available mean that we cannot solve this problem as quickly as we would like.

How do EU terminologists choose which terms to enter in IATE?

Translators and terminologists are free to enter any terms in IATE that they feel are useful to do their job better (ad hoc feeding).

There is also systematic feeding through proactive projects: when we know that a particular subject is going to show up in our texts, we try to add and improve entries dealing with that subject, so that when the texts arrive translators will find the terminology they need already in IATE.

How can I contribute to IATE? Can I suggest terms?

You are welcome to suggest terms that could be added to existing IATE entries or new IATE entries altogether. To do that, you can either use the address iate@cdt.europa.eu or the "Feedback" link situated on the right hand side when you're looking at a particular language within an entry. However, please remember to add as much relevant information as you can to attest the reliability of the term(s) you propose. Your contribution will be examined by a terminologist of the language in question.

Why isn’t my language in IATE?

The public version of IATE contains only the official languages of the European Union, as defined in Regulation No 1/1958. For more details please see:


Why can’t I find the term I’m looking for?

It could simply be that nobody has yet felt the need to put it there. However, there are other common reasons:

In the field of terminology, a term is different from a word: a term is a word or a set of words used to denote a concept in a particular specialised domain, i.e. it belongs to the jargon of a specific domain of knowledge. So, words from everyday language are not terms and therefore you should not expect to find things like "parsimonious" or "substantial" in IATE.

There may be a problem with your search. Take some time to familiarise yourself with IATE's search criteria and check that there are no spelling mistakes.

Why are there different entries for the same term?

Apart from the problems of duplication mentioned in another question, this could be due to the fact that, being a terminology database and not a dictionary, IATE takes a concept-based approach, that is, it covers one concept per entry. While in a dictionary you will find a single entry for "mouse", with its different meanings, in IATE each meaning of the word "mouse" will get its own entry. That means that you will find entries for mouse, the animal, mouse, the computer device, mouse, the device to measure pressure, etc.

I have another question. To whom should I send it?

You can send any questions you may have at any time to iate@cdt.europa.eu.