I am wondering whether an "Executive Summary" is intended for an Executive, or whether it has another meaning. Most reports I read are not, as far as I know, intended to be read by anyone in top management, so it seems unlikely that they would have a summary intended for them.

A google search for "executive summary etymology" led me to wiktionary, where it states the etymology of the phrase is...

executive + summary

I didn't find this particularly helpful...

The wiktionary page on "executive" gives definitions as an adjective and as a noun, none of which make a lot of sense to me for use to describe a summary of a report:


1.Designed or fitted for execution, or carrying into effect.

2.Of, pertaining to, or having responsibility for the day-to-day running of an organisation, business, country, etc.; as, an executive act, an executive officer, executive government.

3.Exclusive. an executive bathroom


1.A title of a chief officer or administrator, especially one who can make significant decisions on her/his own authority.

2.That branch of government which is responsible for enforcing laws and judicial decisions, and for the day-to-day administration of the state.

  • Dumbed-down and summarized to a bare skeleton so that executives (potentially) could read it. Nov 9, 2016 at 13:10
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    As it stands your Question is more than reasonable, because "Executive Summary" in that context reads like nonsense. In that context, "Executive Summary" means exactly the same as simple "Summary". Jun 1, 2020 at 23:05

2 Answers 2


An executive summary is a summary of a report that provides sufficient information to allow senior management to make effective decisions without having to the read the entire report. In effect, the contents of the report provides supporting evidence for the executive summary.

So, executive means senior manager in this case.


For the fellow translators who came here looking for guidance, my suggestion is to treat it as if it were just a summary, main points, key points, at a glance summary, boiling down, gist, essence. Ask yourself "what's the word that I would use to describe something that recounts all the key facts and provides an outlook of reasoning and the conclusion."

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    In other words, the use of the term executive summary presupposes a certain culture that surrounds the role of business executives in some English-speaking countries; if the translation is intended for an audience that does not share that culture, and is only interested in the subject matter of the report, translating executive summary word-for-word may cause unnecessary confusion.
    – jsw29
    Mar 13, 2021 at 21:45

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