n.an enumerated list of terms preselected from natural language and chiefly used to aid discovery in information retrieval systemsDurance 1993, 41Without a controlled vocabulary, one cannot ensure the retrievability of the records sought and only those records. . . . [It is] the totality of all the identified access points, the preferred terms and the linkages established among preferred and variant terms within a particular [authority] file.
Controlled vocabularies may be managed locally or shared by a broad community and controlled by an institutional authority. An example of a nationally standardized controlled vocabulary is the Library of Congress Subject Headings. Archivists include terms from controlled vocabularies in their descriptions of archival resources.