In the world of information management, two common terms that people use are “taxonomy” and “ontology”, however people often wonder what the difference between the two terms are.  In many of Wand’s webinars, this question comes up and here is the answer.

Taxonomy is a collection of terms that are connected by broader term, narrower term, related term, and synonym relationships.  You can think of taxonomy as a tree, with parent/child relationships between the terms.   A taxonomy generally is limited to a specific subject area, for example Products or Medical Conditions.

Ontologies can be thought of more like a web, with many different types of relationships between all concepts.  Ontologies can have infinite number of relationships between concepts and it is easier to create relationships between concepts across different subject domains.  For example, you could create a relationship between the topic of “Wood” in a materials taxonomy and “Chair” in a products taxonomy.

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Source: Wand Inc. –  A member of BIIA