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Contemporary Canadian Govt. & Politics: A Research Guide: Definitions

Understanding the special terms and concepts used in a field is a key part of learning about a subject. Many terms you will read will be specific to the fields of political science and government, and some will have a very specific meaning in the Canadian context that differs in other countries.

TIP : Make sure you look up the meanings of any unknown terms while doing your initial reading, and definitely before attempting to write a research paper on a related topic. There are many different sources for finding definitions. Besides dictionaries and glossaries, encyclopedias, research articles and scholarly texts will have definitions of the key terms relevant to their topic. Use all of these to understand clearly what is being discussed.

Dictionaries and Glossaries

Use dictionaries and glossaries that are as specific as possible to Canadian politics and government. A political term might have a different meaning in a different country, or in a general sense, than it does in Canadian politics.

Elections Canada Glossary of Electoral Terms.

Provides brief definitions of electoral terms, and French equivalent.

Glossary of Canadian Political Terms. By Mark Dickerson & Tom Flanagan.

A brief list of Canadian political terms with very brief definitions from the authors of An Introduction to Government and Politics", 5th ed.

A Glossary of Parliamentary Procedure. Ottawa: House of Commons.

Definitions for terms used in the context of the Canadian House of Commons.

The Language of Canadian Politics: A Guide to Important Terms and Concepts. By John McMenemy. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 4th. ed. 2006. 436 p.

Provides clear, concise, and thorough definitions of political terms and concepts used in a Canadian context.

Vocabulary of Parliament. By Cyrille Goulet. Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada. Translation Bureau. Terminology Bulletin 240. 1998.

One of many English/French glossaries available from the federal government's Translation Bureau, this one provides the English/French equivalents of 1,600 terms used in Parliament and about a quarter of the terms are defined and explained in a brief note.