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3 Arduino Jargon Terms That Confuse Everybody

Are you feeling overwhelmed with some of the technical terms surrounding Arduino? Does Arduino jargon have you thinking “What does that even mean!?”

What is an Arduino shield? What does Arduino Pin mean? What is a breakout board? Watch this video to learn the meaning of these three common Arduino jargon terms!

When you’re getting into Arduino for the first time there is a ton of technical jargon. This jargon is made up of terms that everybody who is familiar with Arduino knows. If you’re not familiar with it, however, you’re just like, “What does that mean?”

In this lesson, we are going to demystify three extremely common jargon terms that you’ve probably scratched your head over already.

Arduino jargon and terms

Arduino Shield

What the heck is an Arduino shield? Here’s the deal – an Arduino shield is a circuit board that fits on top of an Arduino board. It’s got circuitry that expands the capabilities of the Arduino.

Arduino shield capabilitiesFor example, you might have a GPS shield. A GPS shield plugs right into the top of an Arduino, and then you are able to add GPS functionality to your Arduino program.

Along with that GPS shield, there’s also a GPS shield library. You will find this is true in most cases, where there are simplified functions associated with these shields that are going to allow you to use the shields hardware.

Arduino shield

To recap, a shield is a separate, “plug-on” circuit board that adds functionality and capability to your Arduino board.

Arduino Pins

What are we talking about when we say an Arduino pin? If you look at a microcontroller, all around the edges are these little metal prongs that stick out.

Arduino microcontroller pins

These are the connections that go into the microcontroller. It’s on these little pins that we’re able to read the inputs and create the outputs.

On an Arduino board, all of those little plastic holes on the outside are electrically connected to the pins on the microcontroller. So when somebody says, “pin 13 on the Arduino,” they’re talking about the little hole on the outside that has a number 13 on it.

Arduino pins

That hole, however, is electrically connected to the corresponding pin on the microcontroller. Thus we refer to the hole as “Pin 13”.

Breakout board

The final jargon term you’re guaranteed to run into is called a breakout board. A breakout board is essentially a very small printed circuit board that has a very specific type of circuit on it.

Arduino breakout boards

There are all kinds of breakout boards, like a temperature sensor breakout board, or a GPS breakout board, for example. These are boards that don’t plug in directly on top of the Arduino (like an Arduino shields does), but they can still be electrically connected to the Arduino (via wires).

Generally, breakout boards are less expensive than Arduino shields because they have less hardware that goes into them.

Well we hope you enjoyed the lesson, we’ll see you next time!




  1. Avatar JACK BROCKHURST on June 29, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    Nice video, well thought thru. i like the idea that you don’t have to buy a shield for your project, just buy the breakout boards

  2. Avatar Yafa Lamm on July 3, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    You are so clear. It is wonderful!!!
    Thank, you, thank you, thank you!

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