gist is our minimalist upper ontology. It is designed to have the maximum coverage of typical business ontology concepts with the fewest number of primitives and the least amount of ambiguity. Our gist ontology is free (as in free speech and free beer--it is covered under the Creative Commons 3.0 attribution share-alike license). You can use as you see fit for any purpose, just give us attribution.

Ongoing development of gist is open to the public at the gist GitHub repository.

gist namespace delimiter

Latest Version

Version 9.7.0 of gist was released on May 3, 2021. It is now available for download from the button above.

The big news in the 9.X series: gist has de-modularized

Yup, while there were some benefits to having gist divided into separate modules there were also a few problems. Much of gist is interconnected, as a result some terms got moved up to gistTop instead of the module you would think. In the end it seems that most people would just import all of gist as that was easy and simple. You can listen to the discussion about de-modularizing gist from the gist Council discussion recording.

Second, other big news is we have started to include Turtle and JSON-LD files in the official release.

Please refer to the cumulative Release Notes for more details about what changed in each release.

gist the minimalist upper ontology by Semantic Arts, Inc. is licensed under creative commons, which only requires that you attribute the source ( when you use it. Any concepts used from gist are to remain in the gist namespace (i.e., gist:Organization where gist: = ).

(Can't afford free? Purchase a perpetual license)

  • Gist has a small number of top level concepts from which everything else derives. And these concepts are not philosophical abstractions like endurants and perdurants, or qualia, they are normal terms whose definitions are quite close to what you already believe.
  • Gist has extensive and fine grained disjointness at the highest level. It turns out that in order for an upper ontology to help you avoid making logical errors in your derived enterprise or application ontology, it needs to make use of disjointness.  Without disjointness, the reasoner does not find logic errors.

If you'd like to use the files locally, download a zipped archive which contains the modules of gist as well as documentation for the ontology.

You can also import these files directly into your ontology editor of choice (Protegé, Topbraid, etc.).
View the complete release notes

Open gist in Protege:

  1. Open Protégé
  2. Click File > Open from URL (if it asks, “Do you want to open the ontology in the current window?” Click No).
  3. Enter URI:


Import gist into your Ontology:

  1. Open Protégé
  2. Go to “Active Ontology” / “Ontology Imports”
  3. Click the + next to “Direct Imports”
  4. Choose, “Import an ontology contained in a document located on the web”
  5. Enter URI:


gist Council

We have an active governance and best practices community around gist, called the gist Council. We have a teleconference the first Thursday of every month. Practitioners and users of gist come together to discuss how to use gist and make suggestions on its evolution. If you would like to be involved, send us a note with a description of your use of or interest in gist. We are trying to keep this relatively small and active.