data dictionary

(also codebook, data directory), n.Documentation of the names of entities used in a software application or database, including in each entry its definition (size and type), where and how it is used, and its relationship to other data.


Named entities can include variables, data objects, functions, types, procedures, files, directories, or devices.


Illingworth 1996, p. 122 Developed in the late 1960s the purpose of such a dictionary was originally simply to assist in the maintenance of large-scale data-processing systems. The idea was further developed in the 1970s with the advent of special-purpose software systems to maintain such dictionaries. . . . ¶ The term data dictionary is sometimes used misleadingly by software vendors to refer to the alphabetical listings of names automatically produced when database schema and data manipulation coding is being processed and compiled. . . .