BIM Dictionary Basics

Last updated Oct 20, 2018

The BIM Dictionary includes hundreds of Dictionary Items in English. Each Dictionary Item includes a Term and its Description. Many Items also include an Abbreviation and multiple Synonyms.

These Dictionary Items are available under an open license, each with its own page so it can be commented upon and referenced from other websites and digital documents. Many of these items are also used within BIMe assessment modules, learning units and implementation templates.

Below is a brief explanation of how these Dictionary Items are developed:

Terms and their definitions

  • Terms are derived from international Noteworthy BIM Publications (NBPs). NBPs are published guidelines, protocols, standards, and manuals developed by industry bodies, task groups and industry-wide initiatives. Some terms are specific to BIM Excellence and are derived from the BIM Framework and BIM Excellence Methodology
  • Each Term’s definition is researched thoroughly with academic rigour. Unless, a term has legal implications, the selected definition for each term is simplified and clarified. If definitions are adopted as is, the reference source is logged and cited
  • Term definitions are considered ‘international’ unless they vary between countries. Terms specific to a country (e.g. terms appearing within the UK PAS1192 series) are adopted as is (simplified if possible) and then flagged as UK-specific (e.g. search for Data Drop and you'll notice a small Union Jack next to the term). However, if a country-specific term is adopted by ISO, it will lose its country flag
  • If a term has multiple yet similar definitions, these definitions are combined into one
  • If a term has contradictory definitions, the definition that complements other terms or - at least does not contradict other terms – is chosen
  • If a term has two widely-used and irreconcilable definitions (e.g. BEP), a single definition – the one most likely to become part an ISO standard – is chosen
  • If a term appears in a NBP (e.g. Smart City in PAS1192-5) but is more comprehensively defined in specialised literature, then the specialised literature description is adopted.


  • Abbreviations are only added if either they are well recognised or are considered helpful
  • If different terms have the same abbreviation (e.g. LOD, is it an abbreviation of Level of Development or Level of Definition?), the abbreviation is awarded to the term appearing within the NBP with the highest relevance index. If the relevance level is difficult to establish, then the most used term (tested using Google Trends or similar) is awarded to abbreviation


  • The Dictionary Item represents the most relevant term and its description (see previous point). Terms with similar definitions to the selected Dictionary Item are listed as synonyms
  • As terms and descriptions evolve, a synonym may later be elevated into a separate Dictionary Item with its own term page


Each Dictionary Item is tagged with one or more 'concepts' derived from the BIM Ontology. This allows the search for conceptually-similar terms (e.g. Model Uses, Events or Roles) using the 'Concepts' drop-down menu.


Many BIM Dictionary Items are available in different languages as direct translations of the English (canonical) terms. New languages are added as new Language Editors join the BIMe Initiative. For more information about LOTE (Language Other Than English) translations, pleased refer to the 801in BIMe Initiative Editor's Guide. For a list for current Editors, please click here.


In selecting a definition, the editor is mindful that different people associate varied meanings to the same term; and that for every definition selected, there are many equally-valid selections. But for assessment, learning and implementation to be integrated, the Editor had to select or approve a single definition for each canonical term within each language.


The Dictionary does not include every term listed in Noteworthy BIM Publications (NBP)s. Common-knowledge terms, and term combinations that can be adequately understood using language dictionaries (e.g. Client, Payment or Construction Equipment) are excluded.

Errors and Omissions

If an error, contradiction or a flagrant omission is discovered, please either add a comment on the affected term’s page or send the editor note through the contact us page.

Changes and Updates

Changes to the BIM Dictionary are logged. Major updates will be emailed to registered users and/or communicated publicly through the BIM Excellence twitter account @bimexcellence.

Referencing the BIM Dictionary

All are encouraged to add a reference to or link to the BIM Dictionary on websites and blogs. The BIM Dictionary logo (available here) can also be used provided it is hyperlinked back to

Extracting terms and descriptions

Anyone is welcome to extract any number of terms and their descriptions from the BIM Dictionary to use on their own site or in a printable format (even for commercial use). Those who wish to do this must acknowledge that:

  • The BIM Dictionary is regularly updated and it's better to hyperlink to each term's unique page instead of extracting any static content;
  • The BIM Dictionary is provided as is; those developing or contributing to the BIM Dictionary do not take responsibility for any use or abuse of these terms and descriptions;
  • To cite a specific Dictionary Item (the term and its description, abbreviation, synonym, translation, and extended description), please follow the citation syntax explained further below; and
  • If 10 or more terms/description are extracted and used, the site/document where these are used need to include the BIM Dictionary logo and the following reference text (in a prominent position):
[All, The following, The above] "terms and descriptions are derived from the online BIM Dictionary (, an open knowledge-sharing project by the BIMe Initiative ( BIM Dictionary terms and their descriptions are provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License"

Citation of Dictionary Items

There are currently three variations of authorship for Dictionary Items:

  1. Adapted - collated from multiple sources and then simplified/coordinated into a 'new description'; these represent are the majority of all Dictionary Items.
  2. Adopted - collated from a single published source (a publically available online resource - free or for a fee). Adopted items show the source as follows: [Source: url] ...see example:
  3. Authored - coined or significantly extended by an individual researcher or practitioner (and thus identified in the bottom-right corner of authored Dictionary Items).

To cite one of the above variations, please use the corresponding bibliographical format:

Types 1 and 2: BIM Dictionary (2016), Term(Abbreviation). Retrieved from URL or permalink, Last Accessed Month DD, YYYY. Example: BIM Dictionary (2016), Accreditation System. Retrieved from, Last accessed Aug 6, 2016.

Type 3: Surname, Initial. (2016), Term(Abbreviation). BIM Dictionary. Retrieved from URL or permalink, Last Accessed Month DD, YYYY. Example: Finnith, J. (2016). BIG BIM. BIM Dictionary, Retrieved from, Last Accessed Aug 6, 2016.

Usage License

The BIM Dictionary is a Community Page and is part of the not-for-profit BIM Excellence Initiative. Unless otherwise noted or attributed to others, BIM Dictionary Terms and Definitions are provided under a Type X License allowing both personal and commercial use. Also, as of 2 August 2018, the BIM Dictionary is an Open Source project on GitHub