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Glossary of Basic Welding Terms and Definitions

Glossary of Basic Welding Terms and Definitions

Getting into welding requires learning quite a few new things, including a flurry of industry terms. Since learning essential industry terminology can be confusing at times, a glossary of basic welding terms and definitions can successfully clear up any questions you might have. There are many welding terms worth learning, so this guide will prioritize five of the most essential—alternating current, amperage, base metal, direct current, and electrode.

Alternating Current

If you see “AC/DC” on a welding machine, the AC stands for “alternating current.” This term refers to the direction that an electrical current flows. Alternating currents routinely reverse their direction, which differs from a “direct current” (defined below).


How much amperage any given weld calls for differs from task to task, so this is one of the most vital terms to comprehend. Amperage measures how much electricity is flowing past a specific area of the conductor per second. To avoid further confusion, keep in mind that “current” and “amperage” refer to the same process in welding—you’ll frequently hear them used interchangeably.

Base Metal

This term refers to the metal that is being welded, cut, or otherwise altered to achieve a specific design. You’ll also hear base metals commonly referred to as “workpieces” by welders.

Direct Current

The DC portion of the previously mentioned “AC/DC” label on welding machines stands for “direct current.” A direct current only flows in one direction. Compared to alternating currents, a direct current never reverses.


This term refers to the various materials routinely used to conduct an electrical current through the base metal. The various types of electrodes include welding rods and wires—both of which are crucial for sustaining the arc that welders need to fuse two base metals.

Reading through this glossary of basic welding terms and definitions is crucial for anyone trying to break into the industry. If you don’t understand these terms, completing successful welds will be far from easy. After learning the basics, you can dive deeper into various industry methods and equipment, which will prove useful when you’re shopping for welding reels and other essential materials.

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