You might think that an industry focused on translation to ensure effective communication would avoid using puzzling acronyms, abbreviations, terms and jargon.

Nevertheless, the fact is that when you discuss translation industry terms, you’ll encounter all of these — and it can be difficult to figure out what the latest bit of alphabet soup and word salad refers to.

This guide is for those of you who are not familiar with the jargon used in the translation industry should help you understand them a little better.

CAT Tools

Not to be mistaken for the popular pet, in the translation industry, CAT is the acronym for Computer Assisted Translation. CAT supports and facilitates the translation process. Actually, like an actual feline, it has proven to be a great companion… for translators.

CAT accelerates the translation process by transforming source text into smaller translatable segments and organizing them to make the translation process easier for the human translator. As a result, the entire process of translating becomes more time-efficient. These computer systems aid translators with the ability to edit and manage their translations — a collaboration between human and computer that results in more efficient translation process. However, CAT it is not to be confused with machine translation.

MT (Machine Translation)

Machine translation differs from CAT. It performs the simple substitution of words from one language to another, without the ability to recognize whole phrases, like idioms, that may translate to something entirely different. On this blog, we frequently keep up with stories about advances and problems of MT — it is a promising field that has made great progress over the years, but many argue that MT will never be able to replace professional human translators.

TM (Translation Memory)

A translation memory or TM is a database where “segments” are stored. These segments may be sentences, paragraphs, headings, titles or just about anything that has been translated previously. Translation memories are used in conjunction with CAT tools.

A translation memory is a bilingual file that stores all translations. You can analyze new texts sent by customers against the TM to ensure consistency and even provide discounts for repeated segments of text.

New Words

“New words” are words, sentences or segments that are identified by the CAT tool as not having been repeated in the text, and they’re present in the translation memory. Sometimes, these “new words” are the ones that are taken into account and priced accordingly.


As the name implies, repetitions are words, segments or sentences that repeat themselves in the text and that generally do not need to be translated again. However, even in cases of 100% matches, it is important for a human translator to check for changes in context that may require a change in the translation.


Fuzzies are segments or sentences that exist in the translation memory, as a whole or partially, and are not considered as new translation or new words. Fuzzies can also be names or numbers. These might qualify for discounts.

Fuzzy matching is a technique that helps speed up the translation process by finding matches that are near perfect between text segments and other entries. This applies to sentences and phrases. Fuzzy matches are saved in the TM database, and translators will typically perform a search for segments that are between 70 and 99% similar to the phrase or sentence they wish to translate.

We hope this quick overview of some translation industry terms and acronyms helped explain a few things. Are there any other terms that you’re unclear about? Let us know!