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Highly regarded French maker of bicycle parts. Best known for their crank sets. T.A. was the pioneer in triple chainwheel crank sets. T.A. also makes bottle cages and special orthopedic pedals for cyclists with legs of different lengths.


To bend a wheel so that it assumes a saddle shape. A Tacoed wheel is more than just out of true, it has bent far enough that the spokes have assumed a new equilibrium position and lost tension. Two spots, 180 degrees apart will be way off to the left, two other spots, halfway between, will be way off to the right. A tacoed wheel is also known as a "potato chipped" wheel.


A tricycle with two wheels in front, one behind.


A bicycle or other vehicle which accommodates two or more riders, one in front of the other. Tandems for three riders are called "triplets", for four: "quadruplets" or "quads", etc.

This site contains several different articles about tandem bicycles.


Noted manufacturer of frame tubing and headsets.


A tap is a tool for cutting female threads. It takes the form of a bolt with flutes cut in the threads, and usually has a taper at the end that is intended to start the thread. There are only a few standard sizes used on bicycles:


SizeApplicationMetric drillSAE drill
3 mmAdjusters in rear dropouts
5 mm x .8 mmBottle cage mounts, fender eyelets, shift lever bosses.4.20#19
6 mm x 1mmCantilever bosses, some fender eyelets5 mm#9
10 mm x 1mmDerailer hangers9.0 mm"T"
1/2" x 20 L & RPedal threads for one-piece cranks
9/16" x 20 L & RPedal threads for three-piece cranks
1.375 x 24 tpi L & RBritish/I.S.O. bottom brackets
35 x 1mm L & RFrench & Swiss bottom brackets
36 x 1mmItalian bottom brackets

The corresponding nut-like tool for cutting male threads is called a die.

My Tool Tips series features an article on the use of taps.

Technomic ®

A series of handlebar stems made by Nitto. Technomic stems are very high-quality aluminum stems, in the traditional "7" shape popular for road bicycles. The special feature of the Technomic stem is that the vertical part of the stem is taller than usual. This is a great aid for fitting bicycles to riders who need a higher handlebar position than would otherwise be possible with a particular frame.


An instrument for measuring spoke tension.

Tension Pulley

The lower pulley on a rear derailer. So called because its main function is to adjust the tension on the chain as different-sized sprockets are selected.

Terry ®

A line of bicycles designed specifically to meet the fitting needs of smaller women.

3rd hand

A clamping tool to hold the brake shoes tight against the rim, to make brake cable adjustments easier.

Threaded Driver

Older Sturmey-Archer hubs used threaded sprockets, similar to track sprockets, which screwed onto a threaded driver. Sometime in the 1940's, three-splined sprockets and drivers were introduced, which made it much easier to interchange sprockets.

Threaded driver To remove the sprocket from a threaded driver, the driver must be removed from the hub (otherwise it will just freewheel as you turn it counterclockwise.) As shown in the photo, one good way to secure it is to set it so that the legs are straddling a suitable steel bar, held in a vise. I use a pair of headset wrenches side-by-side, then unscrew the sprocket with a chain whip.

Threaded drivers are fairly rare, and are often sought after because they have the same thread as a standard freewheel hub. This makes it possible to create a hybrid gearing system by screwing a normal freewheel onto the driver. More details on this may be found in my article on my O.T.B. 63-speed bicycle.

Threaded Headset

Traditional style headsets that screw on to a threaded fork steerer.

Threading Systems

For normal, generic nuts and bolts, there are two threading systems in common use, S.A.E. (U.S.Standard) and Metric (I.S.O.). S.A.E. threads are designated by a diameter and a number of threads per inch (TPI). For example, the common 1/4 - 20 means a bolt 1/4 inch in diameter, with 20 threads per inch. Metric bolts are sized by the diameter and the distance between adjacent threads, for example 6 x 1 refers to a bolt 6 mm in diameter with threads 1mm apart. (This is the size used for brake mounting bolts and brake shoe hardware.) Similarly, 5 x .8 means a bolt 5 mm in diameter, with threads .8 mm apart. (This size is used for fender and bottle-cage fittings, shift lever bosses, and most cable anchor bolts.) A third system, known as Whitworth, was used in Britain up until the 1960's when they converted to metric.

Bicycle parts come in even more different thread systems than common nuts and bolts. There are different standards for headsets and bottom brackets for American/BMX/OPC, British, French, Italian, Raleigh and Swiss bicycles.

Bottom Bracket Threading

(left) cup
(right) cup
1.370" X 24 tpi
1.375" X 24 tpi
rightleftStandard 68 mm
O.S. 73 mm
The overwhelming majority of bicycles in current production.
British and I.S.O. are interchangeable.
ISIS Overdrive48 x 1.5 mmrightleft68mm
100 mm
New proposed standard oversized system.
Italian36 mm X 24 tpirightright
70 mmItalian and some high-end French bicycles.
Prone to problems due to the right threaded fixed cup,
which tends to unscrew itself in use.
French35 mm X 1mm (25.4 tpi)rightright
68 mmObsolete, used on older French bicycles.
Prone to problems due to the right threaded fixed cup,
which tends to unscrew itself in use.
Swiss35 mm X 1mm (25.4 tpi)rightleft68 mmSame thread as French, but fixed cup is left threaded for reliability.
Raleigh1 3/8" X 26 tpirightleft71mm
76 mm
Older British-made Raleighs, especially 3 speeds.
Male threads
on crank
24 tpi (most)
28 tpi

68 mm (2.68") wide
51.3 mm (2.02") i.d.
Older U.S. bikes, BMX, Juvenile bikes,
Department store bikes.
24 tpi cranks use #66 retainers, with 10 5/16" balls.
28 tpi cranks use #64 retainers, with 9 5/16" balls.

What happens if you try to mix different sizes:

Bottom Bracket
Shell Threading
1.37/1.375" x 24 tpi CUPS R-L
(34.8/34.9 x 1.06 mm)
36 mm X 24 tpi CUPS R-R
(1.417" x 1.06 mm)
35 mm X 1mm CUPS R-R
(1.378 x 25.4 tpi)
35 mm X 1mm CUPS R-L
(1.378 x 25.4 tpi)
1 3/8" X 26 tpi CUPS R-L
(34.9 x 1.06 mm)
1.37/1.375" x 24 tpi
(34.8/34.9 x 1.06 mm)
Made to Fit 36 mm Cup diameter is too large, thread won't even start. Cup diameter is slightly too large, usually won't start.
Right (fixed) up threaded in the opposite direction.
Cup diameter is slightly too large, usually won't start. Diameter matches, but thread pitch does not.

Will bind after only a few threads are engaged.

36 mm X 24 tpi
(1.417" x 1.06 mm)
British/I.S.O. cups fall through Made to Fit Italian shells are larger diameter, all other size cups fall right through, threads will not engage.
35 mm X 1mm
(1.378 x 25.4 tpi)
35 mm = 1.378". Shell is slightly larger, thread pitch slightly finer.
Left side may seem to fit, but will be loose.
36 mm Cup diameter is too large, thread won't even start. Made to FitLeft (adjustable) side is interchangeable.
Right (fixed) side is threaded in the opposite direction, won't fit.
35 mm = 1.378". Shell is slightly larger, thread pitch slightly coarser.
Left side may seem to fit, but will be loose.
35 mm X 1mm R
(1.378 x 25.4 tpi)
35 mm = 1.378". Shell is slightly larger, thread pitch slightly finer. May seem to fit, but will be loose. 36 mm Cup diameter is too large, thread won't even start. Left (adjustable) side is interchangeable.
Right (fixed) side is threaded in the opposite direction, won't fit.
Made to Fit 35 mm = 1.378". Shell is slightly larger, thread pitch slightly coarser.
May seem to fit, but will be loose.
1 3/8" X 26 tpi
(34.9 x 1.06 mm)
Diameter matches, but thread pitch does not.

Will bind after only a few threads are engaged.

36 mm Cup diameter is too large, thread won't even start. Cup diameter is slightly too large, usually won't start.
Right (fixed) up threaded in the opposite direction.
Cup diameter is slightly too large, usually won't start. Made to Fit
Road Double43.5Shimano spec, measured to the midpoint between the rings.
with typical 5 mm chainring spacing, this puts the inner at 41 mm, the outer at 46 mm.
Road Triple45Shimano spec, measured to the middle ring.
MTB Triple47.5-50 mmShimano spec, measured to the middle ring.
47.5 preferred, but for frames with oversized seat tubes, the longer dimension may be needed, because the fat tube places the derailer mechanism farther to the right.
Track/Coaster Brake
Traditional One-Speed
Most internal gear hubs
40.5-42 mmOlder bikes with 110 spacing would be on the smaller end of this range
Newer bikes with 120 mm spacing normally use 42 mm
Singlespeed MTB52 mm Wider chainline need for chainstay clearance on MTBs.

This is close to the chainline of the outer ring of a typical MTB triple

Rohloff Speedhub54 mm
(58 mm w/13 tooth)
Singlespeed MTB
47.5 mmWhite Industries ENO hubs use this chainline, which lines up with the middle position of a typical MTB triple.
It's also fairly close to the outer position of a typical "road" double.

Freewheel Threading

TypeThread SpecificationEquivalent


1.375" x 24 tpi

1.370" x 24 tpi

34.92 x 1.048 mm

34.80 x 1.058 mm

French34.7 x 1 mm1.366" x 25.4 tpi
Italian35 mm x 24 tpi1.378" x 1.058 mm
Metric BMX30 mm x 1 mm1.181" x 25.4 tpi
French and Metric BMX freewheels thread don't work with anything else.

ISO, English and Italian are all semi-interchangeable, but it you shouldn't go back and forth between different types of freewheels on the same hub repeatedly.

Headset Threading

Steerer O.D.
Stem diameter
Steerer I.D.
Crown race
Inside diameter
Frame Cup
Outside Diameter
Per inch
BMX/ O.P.C. bikes.833"
(21.15 mm)
26.4 mm32.7 mm24Used mainly on bicycles with one-piece cranks, also some early mountain bikes.
French 25 mm 22 mm26.5 mm,
27.0 mm
30.2 mm25.4
(1 mm)
Obsolete. French steerers usually have a flat filed on the back, rather than a grooved keyway as with other threaded systems.
1" ISO Standard
(25.4 mm)
7/8"(22.2 mm)26.4 mm30.2 mm24This is the standard 1" size.
1" Italian (25.4 mm)7/8"(22.2 mm)26.5 mm,
27.0 mm
30.2 mm24Obsolete. Threads are cut at 55 degrees, but ISO or J.I.S. headsets can be used.
1" J.I.S.
(25.4 mm)
7/8"(22.2 mm)27.0 mm30.0 mm24Older or lower-quality bicycles from Asia
1" Raleigh
(25.4 mm)
7/8"(22.2 mm)26.4 mm30.2 mm26Proprietary size used on Raleighs made in Nottingham, England
(26 mm)
22 mm26.7 mm30.8 mm25.4
(1 mm)
Higher quality Austrian bikes use English/ISO
French Tandem 28 mm 22 mm 25.4
(1 mm)
Obsolete and rare.
1 1/8" (28.6 mm)1" (25.4 mm)30.0 mm34.0 mm26"Oversized" (This size is more often used for threadless systems.)
1 1/4" (31.8 mm)1 1/8" (28.6 mm)33.0 mm37.0 mm26Mainly used on tandems

Pedal Threading

Standard-3-piece cranks9/16" (0.56") x 20 tpi14.28 x 1.27 mm
One-piece (American) Cranks1/2" (0.50") x 20 tpi12.7 x 1.27 mm
Old French14 mm x 1.25 mm0.55" 20.32 tpi

Metric threads are specified by diameter followed by the thread pitch (distance between threads)

For example, the common "M5" thread used for water bottle mounts, cable anchor bolts, fender/rack eyelets, shifter mounts etc. bicycles is more specifically described as "5.0 x 0.8" which specifies a 5 mm diameter, with threads 0.8 mm apart.

Similarly, the common "M6" thread used for brake mounting bolts, threadless stems, many seatpost bolts and so forth is actually "M6.0 x 1.0" That's 6 mm diameter, threads 1 mm apart.

Normal coarse metric threads are commonly designated with the letter "M" followed by the diameter, with the thread pitch understood. For example:

To give another example, the common size for chainring stack bolts is 10 x 1.0 mm. This is a fine thread, not a standard coarse thread, so it would be incoorect to refer to this simply as "M10" since the standard pitch for M10 is 1.5 mm.

Threadless Headsets

Headsets, such as the Dia Compe "Aheadset" ® which fit a smooth sided (threadless) fork steerer.

See the Headset entry for details and adjustment instructions.

Three-piece Cranks

Most bicycle crank sets are of the three-piece type, the three pieces being the left crank, the axle, and the right crank with chainwheel(s). Three piece crank sets either use cotters or tapered cotterless attachment. There are also two-piece crank sets and one-piece crank sets.

Thumb Shifter

The original style of shifter used on mountain bikes, up until the early '90s.

When the Shimano Rapidfire ® and Sun Tour X-Press ® shifters hit the market, confusion resulted, because these, too were operated by the thumbs. This confusion persists, so it is a good idea to avoid the term "thumb shifter." The newer term for these is "top-mount" shifters, as opposed to "below-the-bar" shifters, such as Rapidfire.

Tiller Effect

On bicycles where the handlebars extend well back from the steering axis, such as many cruisers and especially direct-steering long wheelbase recumbents, turning the handlebars also causes both grips to move noticeably to the side. In steering bikes that suffer from tiller effect, you need to move your hands sideways to the side opposite which you're steering. Tiller effect can thus limit how tightly you can corner, as your arm length may limit the amount by which you can turn the handlebars.

T.I.G. Welding

Tungsten Inert Gas welding. A form of welding by the use of an electric arc. The area being heated is bathed in an inert gas (argon?) to prevent oxidation.

T.I.G. welding is commonly used to build lugless bicycle frames. Most current bicycle frame production is done by T.I.G. welding.

Timing Chain

see Synch chain.

Time Trial

A race in which competitors start one-at-a-time, usually at 30 second or one-minute intervals. The winner is the cyclist who completes the course in the shortest time. Since drafting is not allowed in an individual time trial, there are no team tactics; it is just the cyclist agians the clock, hence the sobriquet "the race of truth."

The cycling leg of a triathlon is a form of time trial.

There are also team time trials, usually involving teams of 4 or more, taking turns leading and drafting each other. Team time trials require great precision in rotating position within the team.

Time trials are held both on the road and on the track. Bicycles made for time-trial use are designed to be as aerodynamic as possible, even at the expense of degrading handling characteristics and rider comfort. Since riders are on their own, there is no need for fancy maneuvering as there is in a peloton.


People usually think that tires are made of rubber. This is understandable, because rubber is all that you can see.

A tire is actually made up of three parts:

  1. The beads are two hoops of strong steel wire (or, sometimes Kevlar ®.)
  2. The cords, cloth forming the body of the tire, woven between the two beads. Most modern tires use nylon cords.
  3. The rubber, which covers all the other parts. The rubber on the part that contacts the road is thicker, and is called the tread.
A bicycle tire is not airtight by itself, so it uses an inner tube, which is basically a doughnut-shaped rubber balloon. The inner tube has a valve to allow you to blow it up.

This site includes an extensive article on Tires and also an article explaining the different Tire Sizing systems.

Tire Iron, Tire Lever

A special tool for prying the bead of a tire over the rim. Most tire levers have a rounded end which slips between the rim wall and the tire. The other end of the lever is bent and has a notch. Once you have inserted the first tire lever and pried one section of the bead over the edge of the rim, you can hook the other end around a spoke. This leaves your hands free to stick another lever in, usually two spokes over from the first.

One or two tire irons are usually enough to get all but the most recalcitrant tire beads over the rim, but in extreme cases you may need three. When the third is in place, the middle one can be removed and re-inserted farther over. This is why they are usually sold in sets of three, since you never need more than three.

Since most newer tire levers are made of plastic, the term "tire iron" is a bit anachronistic.

Tire Saver

A frame/fork mounted device designed to brush sharp debris from the tread of tires before it can penetrate through to the inner tube. Tire savers usually attach to the brake center bolt, and are commonly made from recycled spokes.


One of the better materials for making bicycle frames. It is very strong, rustproof, and light.

See my Article on Frame Materials.

Titanium Nitride (TiN)

Titanium Nitride is a very hard ceramic surface treatment used on metal parts to reduce friction and extend wear life.

See Wikipedia for details on this.

Toe Clips

Toe Clips are stirrup-like devices that attach to pedals. They are normally used with leather or fabric straps. Actually, the straps are more important than the clips, but without the clips it is nearly impossible to get into the straps, because the clips hold the straps open, allowing the rider to slip into them.

Toe Clip Overlap

On many bicycles, especially smaller sizes, it is possible for the front fender or tire to bump into the rider's toe or to the toe clip. Some people worry a lot about this, but it is rarely a significant problem in practice.

The only time it can happen is when the handlebars are turned quite far to the side, which only happens at very low speeds.

Many, many people ride bikes with fairly severe overlap with no practical problems, sometimes having to make a slight adjustment to their pedaling habits at very slow speeds.

On smaller size bikes with full size wheels, it is usually impossible to eliminate overlap without causing adverse fit/handling issues.

Toe In

When a brake shoe hits a moving rim, the pull of the rim causes the brake arm to flex a bit. If your brake shoes hit a stationary rim perfectly straight and squarely, the flex of the brake arm will cause the rear edge of the brake shoe to do the brunt of the work. The front edge of the shoe may not even be engaging the rim under hard braking.

Good practice in installing brake shoes is to "toe them in", so that the front part of the shoe hits the rim first. As the brake arm flexes under real braking, it will permit the whole surface of the brake shoe to engage the rim.

Toeing in of brake shoes can also reduce the annoying squeal some brakes make when in use.

Most newer brake shoes have special washers with curved surfaces to allow you to adjust the angle of the shoe to the rim. Older brakes relied on brute force, typically bending the brake arm with an adjustable wrench.


The parts of a drop handlebar above the brake levers.

Top Pull

A style of front derailer operated by a cable coming down from above, as opposed to a traditional "bottom-pull" unit, operated by a cable coming up from below. Top pull derailers are mainly used on mountain bikes, because they permit the designer to avoid running the gear cables by the bottom bracket, where they are exposed to spray from the front wheel.

Top-Swing ®

Most front derailers use a parallelogram which is fixed (attached to the derailer body) at the top, with the moveable cage attached to the bottom link of the parallelogram. Many of the newer Shimano units are built "upside down": the bottom of the parallelogram is fixed in place and the cage attaches to the top link.

A peculiarity of Top-Swing ® derailers is that the limit stop adjustment screws are reversed, so that the outer screw limits inward travel, and vice versa.

Top-Swing ® derailers clamp on to the seat tube lower down than bottom-swing units. (Some don't even attach to the seat tube, but are held on by the bottom bracket mounting ring.) Some frames made for use with top-swing derailers will not permit the installation of conventional bottom-swing derailers, because there's a bottle braze on in the way. Some suspension frames also require a top-swing front derailer for clearance reasons.

Top-Swing ® or bottom-swing derailers can be (and are) made in either top-pull or bottom-pull versions. (This has to do with the direction from which the cable approaches.)

Top Tube

The frame tube that runs horizontally from the top of the head tube to the seat cluster. Up until the 1980's, most high quality bicycles were built with the top tube exactly horizontal. Newer frame designs commonly have sloping top tubes, higher at the front. This is particularly common in smaller frame sizes.

The length of the top tube is probably the most important dimension in providing a comfortable fit. See my article on Frame Sizing.

Torsion, Torque

A force applied in the form of a twist, rather than a straight push or pull. "Torsion" is used to indicate that the force involved it a rotary force. "Torque" is a measurement of torsional force.

Torque is the linear force times the radius at which it is applied. For example, a 10 pound force applied two feet from the axis produces the same torque as a 2 pound force applied ten feet from the axis.

The standard units for measuring torque are pound-feet or Newton-meters. Note that the force unit goes first, so as not to be confused with energy/work measurements. A common error is to refer to "foot-pounds" instead of pound-feet of torque. This is not strictly correct, since the foot-pound is a unit of energy/work, not torque.

Torque Wrench

A "torque wrench" is a type of wrench with a built-in spring-loaded indicator that gives a numerical readout of the amount of torque being applied through it.

This is primarily an automotive tool, especially useful for applications involving crushable gaskets which must be tightened evenly.

Torque wrenches are never needed for bicycle work, although they can be a useful training aid for inexperienced mechanics who haven't learned the feel of a properly-tightened fastener.


"Touring" is a slippery word, and means different things to different people. This can cause mis-communication, so the word should be used with caution.

To non-cyclists, or casual cyclists, "touring" may mean riding 8 miles on a rented cruiser at a beach resort, or a fund-raising "thon" ride, or any type of riding where the principal objective is leisurely enjoyment of scenery and fresh air.

In the sense more generally accepted in cycling circles, however, a "tour" is a multi-day ride, which is not a competition or a timed event.

See also touring bicycle.

Touring Bag

A type of under-the-saddle bag popular in the British Isles. They attach to special loops at the rear of the saddle, and also have a strap which wraps around the seatpost.

Traditional British touring bags are roughly cylindrical (oriented crossways-no attempt is mad to make them aerodynamic). They come in a range of sizes, usually with a large main compartment and a small pocket at each end. They also feature metal rings on top of the flap to which the rider can strap a rolled-up rain cape, in case the rain stops.

Major brands are Brooks, Carradice, and Karrimor. The better quality bags are made of heavy black canvas, with grey "chrome" leather straps and corner re-inforcements.

This type of bag is not ideal for cyclists who like to stand up and thrash their bicycle from side to side while climbing, because they sway back-and-forth under this type of treatment. For the cyclist with a smooth riding style, they offer a good option for carrying a sizeable load on a bicycle which lacks pannier racks.

This type of bag is currently enjoying a resurgence of popularity.

Touring Bicycle

A touring bicycle is designed for comfort, durability, efficiency and, in most cases, load-carrying capacity. Touring bicycles fall into two major groupings:
  1. Loaded-touring bicycles, the classic "touring" bicycle is intended for self-supported travel, including camping and, in some cases, cooking equipment. A loaded-touring bicycle has:

    • A fairly laid-back fork angle for comfort and stability.
    • Long chainstays, for stability, and to provide clearance between the rider's heels and the rear panniers.
    • A triple chainwheel crankset, with a granny gear.
    • A wide-range cluster, with a large sprocket as large or larger than the granny chainwheel.
    • Sturdy wheels with wide (32-35 mm) tires.
    • Cantilever brakes, to allow clearance for wide tires and fenders.
    • Multiple braze-ons for bottle cages, racks, fenders, spare spokes, etc.

    A well-equipped loaded-touring bicycle will usually have:

    • Drop handlebars
    • Full fenders.
    • Front pannier rack (usually low-rider style.)
    • Rear pannier rack.
    • Lighting system (usually generator-powered.)
    • 3 or 4 bottle cages, for water and cooking fuel.

    Increasingly, loaded touring is being done on modified mountain bikes, which share many characteristics with loaded tourers.

    Some riders prefer to use trailers instead of panniers to carry their camping equipment.

  2. Light-touring, or "credit-card" touring bicycles are intended for inn-to-inn tours, randonnés, or organized tours with sag-wagon service, in which the rider will carry perhaps a large touring bag or handlebar bag. A light-touring bicycle may be a modified road-racing bicycle, or a bicycle made for the purpose. It will usually have:

    • Conservative road-racing geometry.
    • A triple chainwheel crankset.
    • A close- or medium-ratio cluster.
    • Medium (25-28 mm) width tires.
    • Clip-on aerobars.
    • Clipless pedals.

  3. "Sport-touring" bicycles are not, strictly speaking, touring bicycles at all. This is a term normally used to refer to the general-purpose "ten-speeds" (later 12-speeds) of the '70's and early '80's. These bikes were marketed as general purpose machines, and millions were sold. Millions of them are now rusting away in the back of the garages of middle America. These bicycles are characterized by:

    • 630 mm (27 inch) wheels.
    • Drop handlebars
    • Double chainwheels, usually 52/42 or 52/39.
    • 5 speed freewheels, usually 14-28 teeth.

    Since these bicycles were most often sold to people for whom drop handlebars were unsuited, many of them added features to try to make the bicycle more appealing to the casual cyclist, without losing the "racer" look:

    Note: the term "sport touring" is sometimes used to refer to a "light-touring" bike by cyclists too young to remember the 10-speed era.


See Shimano Models

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