Industry-Specific English Glossaries

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The APEC Strategic Plan for English and other Languages recognizes the importance of business-oriented language for developing a competent workforce in a variety of industries found in member Economies and around the world.  For that reason, APEC has supported such projects as the APEC Business English computer program and International Education Week 2010, which focused on developing language and communication skills for conducting international and multicultural business in the 21st century.

APEC has also collected several glossaries of English terms and definitions, organized by the various Working Groups of APEC.

Table: Business English Glossaries

Many industries today in the APEC region and around the world use English as their working language or lingua franca. Therefore it is important for workers to receive instruction so they may learn the core vocabulary of their profession or trade in English. Learning the appropriate set of words begins the process of learning what is sometimes called the "Business English" of their industry. It is a step that can help workers do their jobs better. Many of the words in the lists that follow are found in regular English speech, but a thorough understanding of English is often not necessary to learn these specialized vocabularies. In a recent paper, Patricia Duff discusses this issue and highlights the importance of providing training for Business English.

The following table links to glossaries of English terms associated with various industries and sectors, corresponding to the 11 APEC Working Groups, the various APEC Committees, and other groups. The glossaries vary in focus and depth; some use short, simplified definitions, while others use more detailed encyclopedic entries. OECD's glossary on sustainable development provides useful information organized by occupation. Several of the glossaries that follow contain links to further resources, acronyms, technical databases, and thesauri.  Other organizations have compiled resources and glossaries in several languages for many topics.  See for examples the United Nations' Terminological Database and Thesaurus

This table contains samples of the many business glossaries available online.













Sustainable Production

New Mexico State University 


Pennsylvania Farm Bureau


United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

United States Department of Agriculture

United States Department of Agriculture

Glossary of general agriculture terms from the Department of Agriculture and Home Economics of New Mexico State University, U.S.A.


Glossary of general agricultural terms and U.S. agricultural laws dating back to 1906 compiled by the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, U.S.A.


Glossary of biological and biotechnological terms associated with food production from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.


Thesaurus and glossary of agricultural, biological, and ecological terms compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agriculture Library who has collaborated with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture to develop a Spanish version.


Detailed glossary of sustainable development terms pertaining to agricultural production from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.







Unethical Business Practices

United States Postal Service


Heads Up



Independent Commission against Corruption

Glossary of general terms pertaining to corruption and misconduct from the U.S. Postal Service.


Glossary of common fraud schemes and terms from Heads Up Fraud Prevention Association, an organization from Alberta, Canada.


Glossary of general terms pertaining to corruption and unethical business practices from the Independent Commision against Corruption in New South Wales, Australia.

Business and Commerce




Business Australia


Massachussetts Institute of Technology

E-commerce glossary provided by the Government of Australia for businesses.

Glossary of international business and finance terms from the globalEDGE project at Michigan State University, U.S.A.

Glossary of e-commerce terms from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology.

Emergency Preparedness


Preparedness and Response

Catastrophic Events/Attacks

United States Federal Emergency Management Agency

New York City Fire Department

United States Department of Homeland Security

Glossary of terms pertaining to emergency preparedness as relevant to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Response Framework.

Glossary of emergency preparation and response terms from the Fire Department of the City of New York, U.S.A.

Short glossary of terms pertaining to catastrophic events or attacks from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Tsunami Preparedness

Pacific Tsunami Museum 

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization

Glossary of terms identified by the Pacific Tsunami Museum in Hawaii, U.S.A. pertaining to the study of tsunamis and oceanic waves. 

Detailed glossary of terms related to tsunami classification, measurement, and study as well as relevant organizations and bibliography from UNESCO.





Nuclear Energy

United States Department of Energy

International Energy Agency

New Zealand Ministry of Economic Development

United States Nuclear Regulatory Agency

Glossary of general energy terms used by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Glossary and list of acronyms pertaining to a document about energy resources and consumption from the International Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 


A glossary provided by New Zealand’s Ministry of Economic Development detailing terms associated with various commercial energy industries.


Glossary of terms related to nuclear energy materials, production, and regulation compiled by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.



For Students and Teachers



North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries

New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization

General fishery glossary prepared by researchers at Louisiana State University and posted by the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries, U.S.A.


A glossary resource provided by the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries. This list is provided through ST*Rfish resources, a website designed for students and teachers of different industries.


Glossary from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization pertaining to fishing 'technology, law and policy, and marine resources'.


Hospital Safety

Health Topics


Medical Terms


Chronic Diseases

United States Department of Labor 

United States National Institutes of Health


University of Kentucky


World Health Organization

Glossary of common terms pertaining to hospitals, specifically hospital safety issues and hazards, compiled by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Wordlist of health topics with links to articles and resources from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Glossary of medical terms in plain language intended for patients from the University of Kentucky HealthCare, U.S.A.

Glossary of terms pertaining to cross-national studies of chronic diseases conducted by the U.N. World Health Organization.

Pandemic Flu

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Comprehensive glossary of terms pertaining to pandemic and avian flu, as well as acronyms and terms used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Human Resources Development

General Education

English as Second Language Education


Distance Education

International Labor Law

Workplace Safety

North Central Regional Educational Laboratory 

United States Department of Education

University of Idaho

United Nations International Labor Organization


Glossary of general education terms and related U.S. acronyms from the North Central Regional Education Laboratory.


Glossary of terms, acronyms, and legal decisions pertaining to the establishment of programs for English as a second language programs from the U.S. Department of Education.

Glossary of technical terms pertaining to distance, or online, education from the University of Idaho, U.S.A.

Glossary of Labor Law and Industrial Relations, with many thorough definitions, from the U.N. International Labor Organization.

Thesaurus of common workplace-safety terms in several languages from the U.N. International Labor Organization. (Scroll down to PDF)

Industrial Sciences and Technology


International Standards


Information Technology

Texas A & M University

International Organization of Standards

New York Attorney General

United States National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration

Glossary of terms pertaining to telemetry and general technology from Texas A & M University, U.S.A. 

Guide to international industrial standards developed by the International Organization of Standards (ISO).

Basic glossary of computer and technology terms for consumers from the Attorney General of the State of New York, U.S.A.

Technical glossary of information technology terms from U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Intellectual Property Rights




IP Australia

United States Department of State

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Glossary of general intellectual property terms provided by the governmental agency IP Australia.

Brief glossary of intellectual property protection pertaining to domestic and international laws, from the U.S. Department of State.

Glossary of terms and acronyms found on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website, pertaining to all aspects of patents, including intellectual property rights.

Legal Issues

General - U.S.A. 

General - Australia

General - New Zealand




Connecticut Judicial Branch

Legal Education Teachers Association of South Australia

New Zealand Legal Services Agency

Parliament of Singapore

New York State Unified Court System

Glossary of general legal terms from the Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut, U.S.A.

Glossary of general legal terms compiled by the Legal Education Teachers Association of South Australia.

A glossary containing general legal terminology by New Zealand’s Legal Services Agency.

A glossary of commonly used parliamentary terms from the Parliament of Singapore.

Glossary of terms pertaining to the legal and trial systems from the Unified Court System of the State of New York, U.S.A.

Life Sciences

Evolutionary Biology


Australian Museum

Northwestern University

Evolutionary biology glossary provided by the Australian Museum Online.

Glossary of biology, biochemistry, and genetics terms from the Holmgren Lab at Northwestern University, U.S.A.

Marine Resource Conservation

Water Resources and Population


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Colorado State University

Limited glossary of terms pertaining to water resources and population from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Glossary of terms pertaining to water resource conservation from the Colorado State University, U.S.A.

Small and Medium Enterprise



Business Finance

United States Internal Revenue Service


Singapore Statistical Resources 

List of general business terms with links to definitions and resources to assist small business owners from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.


A glossary provided by the Singapore Statistical Resources Government Group. Provides terminology related to business finances and accounting terms.

Telecommunications and Information


Electronic Communications

United States Federal Communications Commission


Glossary of general telecommunications terms designed for consumers, developed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

Glossary of electronic communications terms from ASEAN and the U.N.



New South Wales Government

A glossary provided by Australia’s New South Wales Government Tourism group. The glossary serves as an overview of tourism terms as needed for a corporate audience.




Industry Thesaurus



Mineta Transporation Institute

National Academy of Sciences

State University of New York

Common customs terms used by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Glossary of industry and governmental terms pertaining to transportation by the U.S. government-sponsored Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University.

Industry thesaurus of transportation terms broken down into general topics and linked hierarchically, compiled by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board.

Glossary of aviation terms and related acronyms developed by the State University of New York, U.S.A.