A term is a word or group of words that designates a concept and is used by professionals or specialists in a particular subject field/domain (language for special purposes – LSP).
Having said this, common words that appear in general dictionaries are not really interesting from a terminological point of view. Terminologists collect terms in context and document them – an activity often referred to as content development and management – to guarantee consistent term usage which is important for translation, knowledge transfer, risk mitigation, a.o. When collecting terms, they can save time by means of terminology extraction tools that automate the process of term mining. Since the result of such term extraction is always only a list of candidate terms, the process should rather be described as semi-automatic or computer-assisted. These lists of candidate terms still need to be processed – checked, filtered, cleaned and complemented – by the terminologists.
This was just a brief introduction, but you will find some more detailed information on terminology extraction page.
Carolina Dunaevsky, TermCoord trainee