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Genealogy has its own language, similar to other disciplines such as law, medicine or real estate. When tracing your family tree it is common to encounter records filled with archaic, obsolete or legal terms, acronyms and abbreviations that you aren't familiar with. This can make genealogy seem a lot like learning a foreign language to an overwhelmed "newbie." Misinterpreting these terms or applying present-day definitions to documents created in an earlier century can lead your research in the wrong direction. Taking the time to look up the appropriate meaning of a word or interpretation of an abbreviation is an important part of your family history search.
This glossary consists of common genealogy terms, archaic medical terms, latin terms commonly found in genealogical records, genealogical acronyms and abbreviations commonly found in genealogy records. To find the terms you are looking for, simply click the appropriate letter in the navigation bar located at the top of each index page in the glossary, or browse through terms which are relevant to a particular genealogy topic by browsing the related terms included on each definition page.
This glossary is a continual work-in-progress. If you come across a term you think should be included in the glossary, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and include GLOSSARY TERM as the subject of your email. I am especially interested in suggestions for terms you have come across which you need to know the meaning for (a recent example I was given is "pew tax").