Introducing our Dictionary of Technical Terms

If you’ve learned another language before, you are probably familiar with this experience: You’re reading a news article, following a lecture, or working through a repair guide. Everything is going swimmingly and all of a sudden, there it is. Just like some sort of evil, oversized pentalobe screw, blocking your way: A word you don’t know. 

There’s more than one way to bake cookies.

In some cases, it’s not so bad. If you are following a German friend’s recipe for Spitzbuben (my favorite Christmas cookies) and you don’t immediately know the words “rotes Johannisbeergelee,” you’ll soon figure out it’s some sort of jam you have to spread on the cookies. And honestly, that’s really all that matters. 

The cookies will be delicious no matter what kind of jam you use.

But if you are fixing your car, it’s not enough to know that the “alternator” is some sort of engine part. And if you are taking notes on “buck and boost converters” and other board components in one of your technical engineering classes, you’ll want to understand exactly what your professor is talking about. That is if you don’t want to fail your exam. 

Lots of components in this iPhone 15: different cables, chips, connectors, cameras, boards—and they all have very specific names.

Learning technical words can be tricky even in your native language, but trying to understand them in a foreign language—like when you are translating repair guides—can be particularly challenging. Years ago, we started writing down all our translations in an internal glossary. At first a short list of terms, it has now grown into a multilingual technical dictionary including close to 500 specialized words and phrases. And we are now making that dictionary available to YOU!

Words make all the difference

Finding out what a specific technical term means in a different language is far from easy, and nobody knows that better than all those who help us translate repair guides and wikis on iFixit. 

Even once you’ve mastered the translations of the different screw heads, there is an enormous amount of specialized words that appear in our guides, teardowns, and wikis which are not straightforward to translate. For instance, how do you say “ribbon cable” in Spanish? What would you call a “press-fit connector” in Korean? Or how about the Dutch translation of “dual channel memory”? 

We have spent hours researching terms like these to help us make repair information available to people all over the world. It’s important to us to get it right: As the world’s largest repair community, our goal is to help everybody to fix their own stuff, so it would be awful if someone ended up breaking their $1,000 phone just because we got a word wrong. 

This is also why the translations submitted by our volunteer translators are proofread by iFixit staff or other volunteers with more experience. It is also the reason why we spend so much time diligently researching the translations for words like “baseband processor” or “ground loop”. We want to make sure that we offer quality content in all languages.

Our iFixit Technical Glossary is now freely available!

The glossary of technical terminology we have put together currently contains close to 500 technical terms in English and their translations into German, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. And we are making this resource available to all!

Knowledge at your fingertips: Our glossary of technical terms in the WordTheme dictionary app.

Quite literally, to all. You can access it freely in all these languages, as web-based files that you can open in your browser, and as files you can import into your dictionary or flashcard app on Android or iOS. Take a look at this section in our translators’ wiki—there you’ll find all the links you need, tips on which smartphone apps will work with these files as well as guides on how to upload the dictionary data onto your phone.

We don’t want you, dear volunteer translators of iFixit, to spend hours researching technical vocabulary. 

We want you to be able to do what you do best—translate content to help people of your language community repair their things. And we are happy if we can spare you from having to research what “capacitive touch sensor” translates to in your language!

Pass it on

iFixit is all about sharing knowledge. We believe that freely accessible information is the prerequisite for a better world. 

This is why we are making our iFixit Technical Glossary available to anyone who wants to use it—whether you are an active volunteer translator on our platform or an electrical engineering student struggling with technical terminology in a foreign language. 

We just ask one thing: Pass the knowledge on. Help others understand their electronics and repair their stuff. And if you ever feel you want to know more, create an account and help us translate. You wouldn’t believe how much you can learn about technology just by translating repair information.