25 dance & music glossaries

If dance or music terms baffle you, if you are a translator who wants to specialise in these areas, then you will definitely love these glossaries. To help you decide which glossary is bound to have the term you are looking for, they are divided into two categories and with a helpful description each glossary is accompanied by a detailed description.


Chandrakantha – Whether you have a passion for Indian music or you need to find the meaning of a word related to this field, this website offers a comprehensive list of terms.

dolmetsch online – This online dictionary/glossary of music terms offers their translation into English (where possible) or an explanation of the respective term. A very useful online resource.

ElectronicMusic – A glossary of electronic music terminology.

OnMusic dictionary – What this website offers on top of the glossary of music terms is the pronunciation of each entry, which is particularly useful considering the abundance of terms coming from other languages.

Wikipedia – A comprehensive glossary covering musical instruments, singing techniques, sound equipment and everything in between, all related to jazz and popular music.

Classicalworks – From a cappella to whole-tone scale, this glossary lends a hand when it comes to classical music terms.

Violin Online – As the name suggests, this is a glossary of terms related to violin music. A very comprehensive resource put together by Dr. Robin Kay Deverich.

Cello Online – Like the previous gossary, this one has been preared by the same Dr. Robin Kay Deverich, but this one focuses on cello music.

The ORB – Is that text on medieval music giving you a headache? Check out this glossary. It is quite comprehensive, so it will most likely contain that troublesome term.

SOCAN – A glossary dedicated to the music industry in general. The detailed explanations of terms ensure thorough comprehension. We love this resource.


ACM – This glossary focuses on ballet terms. The explanations are fairly easy to understand, but you will have to have some basic ballet knowledge to fully understand them.

Theatredance – A dictionary of modern tap dance-related terms, with explanations that are easy to be understood even by beginners. Furthermore, the site provides links to a ballet dictionary, a music dictionary and a so-called ‘hipster’s swing dictionary’ (which is a nice source of information even if you are not looking for a specific word).

Wikipedia – This is a very rich glossary of terms related to partner dance. The explanations are easy to understand and you will be able to find here almost any important term you may be looking for.

Wikipedia – This is a glossary of general dance moves (from ball dance to the more modern moonwalk move).

Ballroom Dancers – A complete glossary of ball dance terms with explanations suitable for someone not fully knowledgeable in this field.

Round Dancing – This glossary contains terms related to ball dance (including steps and actions). The explanations are simple and pictures are provided where necessary.

Arts Alive – On this website you can find terms connected to dance techniques, theatre, stage directions and cultural movements or significant periods that influenced the performance arts.

ABT-American Ballet Theatre – An extremely rich source of information on ballet terminology. Besides comprehensive explanations, some of the terms come with videos that will explain them even better.

Toronto English Dance – An easy to understand guide to English country dances, which includes both general terms and explanations for steps and turns specific to these dances.

About.com – You can find here six different glossaries and five of them focus on specific dances and their terminology (ballroom, ballet, jazz, pointe shoe and tap). The other glossary explains several other types of dances (such as Charleston, hula, folk or hustle).

Firefly Pole Dancing – This is a glossary focusing on pole dancing terminology. If you have ever wondered how all those ‘dangerous’ movements are called, this is your chance to find out.

Country Dance Lines – A glossary containing country dance terminology. Where verbal explanations are not enough, pictures will help you understand the terms better.

Hip-Hop Dance Guide – Hip-hop dances have their own lingo, same as all the other dances. If you want to understand better the specific terminology related to this dance, this will be a very good source of information for you.

Shira – A very well researched source of information for those looking for terms related to belly-dancing and Arabic dances and music. You will find here comprehensive definitions, examples of singers performing a particular genre and photos to make the terminology much easier to understand.

Dance in Bangkok – On this website you can find a few short glossaries, focusing on common terminology used in ballet, theatre, stage directions, technical elements and lighting. Although there may be other glossaries focusing on the same fields as well, these ones will provide you with some basic understanding of those words that are very frequently used in the performance arts.