Category Archives: Genealogy Glossary

What Does That Word Mean???? Genealogy Glossaries

Tackling genealogy research presents a number of obstacles – finding documents, deciphering what they say and sometimes flummoxing our best attempts to understand the vocabulary in a land deed or even a historical book. Languages are living, changing beings. New words enter a language – just look at all the 21st century words like “internet” that wold stump anyone living in the 1920s – but, by the same token, words become obsolete or its definition today is not the same as its meaning in, say, 1700.

How can a reader determine the exact meaning of an unfamiliar word or a familiar word that doesn’t seem to make much sense?

There are several genealogically-oriented glossaries to be found online. No single glossary website is all-encompassing, so be sure to check all the options until a answer is found!

Ancestry’s Glossary of Genealogical Terms

Black’s Law Dictionary

Family Tree Magazine Genealogy Terms Glossary

FamilySearch Research Wiki: Genealogical Terms

Genealogy Quest Glossary of Terms

Genealogy in Time Latin Dictionary

Genealogy Trails – Genealogy Terms Encountered While Family Researching

Gramps Project Genealogy Glossary

MyHeritage Genealogy Glossary: Common Genealogy Terms Explained

PBS History Detectives Genealogy Glossary

Root To Branches Genealogy Terms Explained

RootsWeb Genealogy Terms

The DNA Geek – A Genetic Genealogy Glossary

Treemily Comprehensive Glossary of Genealogical Terms

I also have to recommend one book – Estate Inventories: How to Use Them by Kenneth L. Smith – if you spend much time looking at estate records. There is a fabulous 72 page Glossary of Uncommon Words (half the book) that defines many of the obsolete words found in estate inventories. Copies are available online for less than $20.00.

Check out each of these websites before you actually need to define a term as they are organized in different ways and a few have more than one layer of information to be accessed.

Happy Hunting!