A controlled vocabulary is a list of terms that have been enumerated explicitly. This list is controlled by and is available from a controlled vocabulary registration authority. All terms in a controlled vocabulary should have an unambiguous, non-redundant definition. This is a design goal that may not be true in practice. It depends on how strict the controlled vocabulary registration authority is regarding registration of terms into a controlled vocabulary. At a minimum, the following two rules should be enforced:

  1. If the same term is commonly used to mean different concepts in different contexts, then its name is explicitly qualified to resolve this ambiguity.
  2. If multiple terms are used to mean the same thing, one of the terms is identified as the preferred term in the controlled vocabulary and the other terms are listed as synonyms or aliases.


A controlled vocabulary may have no meaning specified (it could be just a set of terms that people agree to use, and their meaning is understood), or it may have very detailed definitions for each term.

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A quote saved on Feb. 26, 2013.


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