Wire Harness Terms: A Helpful List for New Buyers

A Helpful List of Wire Harness Terms 

The list below includes a number of Wire Harness Terms and Definitions.

Many of our customers are new to outsourcing their wire harness assemblies.

Therefore, you will find these Wire Harness Terms helpful. Especially if this is all new to you.

Wire Harness IPC/WHMA-A-620 Standard

Wire Harness Terms, Wire Harness Terms: A Helpful List for New Buyers

All of the Wire Harness Terms below are from the IPC/WHMA-A-620. This is an industry standard. Furthermore, this standard provides criteria for commonly used wire harness assemblies.  

The standard sets a “collection of visual Quality Acceptability Requirements for Cable, Wire and Harness Assemblies.”

Wire Harness Terms and Definitions


Wires and Cables

Wire – Slender rod or filament of drawn metal.

Cable – A group of individually insulated conductors. However, these conductors are in twisted or parallel configuration under a common sheath.

American Wire Gage (AWG) – A standard system for designating wire diameter. However, it is primarily used in the U.S.

Braid – Woven bare metallic or tinned copper wire used as shielding for wires and cables. Also, as ground wire. This ground wire is for batteries or heavy industrial equipment. In addition to, a woven fibrous protective outer covering over a conductor or cable.

Coaxial Cable – A cable consisting of two cylindrical conductors. The two conductors share a common axis. However, the axis is separated by a dielectric.

Conductor – An uninsulated wire. Also, the conductor of an insulated wire suitable for carrying electrical current.

Ribbon Cable – A flat cable of individually insulated conductors lying parallel. These conductors are also, held together by means of adhesive film laminate.

Wire Diameter – The overall conductor plus insulation thickness.

Connectors and Terminals

Connector – A device used to electrically join two or more conductors. This is in addition to, physically joining the conductors.

Terminal – A device designed to terminate a conductor. It is to be affixed to a post, stud, chassis, another conductor, etc. Consequently, this establishes an electrical connection. Furthermore, some types of terminals include: ring, tongue, spade, flag, hook, blade, quick-connect, offset and flanged.

Contact – The conducting part of a connector. Therefore, acts with another such part to complete or break a circuit.

Crimp – Final configuration of a terminal barrel formed by the compression of terminal barrel and wire.

Crimp Height – The measurement of the overall wire barrel height after crimping the terminal.

Double Crimp – The process of two or more mechanical crimping operations on the same location on a single terminal.

Ferrule – A short tube. Useful in making solderless connections to shielded or coaxial cable. Also, a terminal crimped onto stranded wire to allow insertion into terminal blocks.

RF Connector – Connector used for connecting or terminating coaxial cable.

Strain Relief – A technique or item which reduces the transmission of mechanical stresses to the conductor termination.

Insulation Crimp – Area of a terminal, splice, or contact that is formed around the insulation of the wire.

Bellmouth – The raised portion at the front and/or back of the wire barrel crimp. Therefore, this provides a gradual entrance and exit for the wire strands without causing damage.

Wire Harness Terms, Wire Harness Terms: A Helpful List for New Buyers


Harness – A group of wire and cables. Harnesses are usually have breakouts. Breakouts are tied together or pulled into a rubber or plastic sheath. Consequently, a harness provides interconnection of an electric circuit.

Cable Assembly – A cable with plugs or connectors attached.

Miscellaneous Helpful Terms and Definitions

Conduit – A tube in which insulated wires and cables pass through.

Dielectric – Any insulating medium that intervenes between two conductors.

Grommet – A rubber seal. This is useful on the cable side of multiple contact connector. Furthermore, it seals the connector against moisture, dirt, or air.

Insulation – A material that offers high electrical resistance. This makes it suitable for covering components, terminals, and wires. This coverage will prevent the possible future contact of adjacent conductors. Contact which would result in a short circuit.

Lanyard – A device attached to certain connectors that permit uncoupling. It also permits, separation of connector halves by a pull on a wire or cable.

Stress Relief – A predetermined amount of slack to relieve tension in component or lead wires.

Tubing – A tube of extruded non-supported plastic or metallic material.

Helpful Information

To learn more about the IPC/WHMA-A-620, click here

For more information on Ground Straps and the Wire Harness Assembly process, please click on the links below:

Also, if you are a circuit board junkie, check out our blog series on soldering printed circuit boards.



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