IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding
The natural language AI service for advanced text analytics.
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Watson Natural Language Understanding

IBM Watson® Natural Language Understanding uses deep learning to extract meaning and metadata from unstructured text data. Get underneath your data using text analytics to extract categories, classification, entities, keywords, sentiment, emotion, relations and syntax.

Natural Language Understanding is a best-of-breed text analytics service that can be integrated into an existing data pipeline that supports 13 languages depending on the feature. NLU is hosted in Dallas, Washington, D.C., Frankfurt, and Sydney.

  • Deploy Watson Natural Language Understanding behind your firewall or on any cloud.
  • Train Watson to understand the language of your business and extract customized insights with Watson Knowledge Studio.
  • Surface real-time actionable insights to provide your employees with the tools they need to pull meta-data and patterns from massive troves of data.  
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Similar NLU capabilities are part of the IBM Watson NLP Library for Embed®, a containerized library for IBM partners to integrate in their commercial applications.

Benefits 6.13 Cost savings 

USD 6.13 million in benefits over three years¹

383% ROI

383% ROI over three years²

50% Save time

50% reduction in time spent on information-gathering tasks³

5% Revenue

5% annual increase in revenue³

Features Learn more below about how Watson Natural Language Understanding extracts metadata from text such as entities, keywords, categories, sentiment, emotion, relations, syntax and much more. Domain customization

Train Watson to understand the language of your business and extract customized insights with Watson Knowledge Studio.

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Text analytics

Surface real-time actionable insights to provides your employees with the tools they need to pull meta-data and patterns from massive troves of data.

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Deploy anywhere

Deploy Watson Natural Language Understanding behind your firewall or on any cloud.

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Detect people, places, events, and other types of entities mentioned in your content using our out-of-the-box capabilities.

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Categories (Beta)

Categorize your data with granularity using a five-level classification hierarchy.

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Classify text with custom labels to automate workflows, extract insights, and improve search and discovery.

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Identify high-level concepts that aren’t necessarily directly referenced in your content.

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Extract emotions (joy, anger, sadness, fear, and other feelings) conveyed by specific target phrases or by the document as a whole.

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Sentiment (Beta)

Analyze the sentiment (positive, negative, or neutral) towards specific target phrases and of the document as a whole.

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Understand the relationship between two entities within your content and identify the type of relation.

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Quickly extract information from a document such as author, title, images, and publication dates.

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Semantic roles

Parse sentences into subject-action-object form and identify entities and keywords that are subjects or objects of an action.

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Case studies

Mushi Lab Mushi Lab created Clearscope to analyze high-performing content and identify actionable recommendations, resulting in 15% month-over-month revenue growth. Find out more

Global Regulation Global-Regulation built a comprehensive world law search engine, which indexes, processes, and translates nearly 2 million laws from 100 countries. Find out more

Accrete.AI Accrete.AI used Watson Natural Language Understanding, Watson Knowledge Studio, and Watson Discovery products to understand the linguistic nuances specific to inflation, employment, and other financially relevant topics to address critical issues that fund managers face in financial markets. This helps customers focus on making better decisions and stop wasting time trying to process and contextualize endless digital streams of confusing, constantly changing information.

How NLU pricing works

IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding is an offering within the IBM Cloud.
For detailed Natural Language Understanding pricing, view the following table. For additional information about our broader pricing models and approaches, visit our IBM Cloud pricing overview.

Please visit our pricing calculator here, which gives an estimate of your costs based on the number of custom models and NLU items per month.


The Lite plan is perpetual for 30,000 NLU items and one custom model per calendar month. Once you reach the 30,000 NLU items limit in a calendar month, your NLU instance will be suspended and reactivated on the first day of next calendar month. We recommend the Lite Plan for POC's and the standard plan for higher usage production purposes.

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The Standard Plan supports more than 5M items/month starting at USD 0.003 per item. The standard version includes unlimited custom entities and relations models trained with WKS for USD 800 and custom classification models for USD 25.

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Gain insights into the benefits of building with IBM

Build AI-based solutions faster with IBM embeddable AI

Optimized with Intel IBM and Intel have long collaborated on data and AI products. Most recently, IBM Research collaborated with Intel to improve Watson NLP Library for Embed and Watson NLU performance with Intel® oneDNN and Tensorflow. Powered by oneAPI, the integrated solution demonstrated benefits of up to 35% in performance throughput4 for key NLP and NLU tasks. IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding powered by Intel processors

IBM Watson NLP Library for Embed, powered by Intel processors and optimized with Intel software tools, uses deep learning techniques to extract meaning and meta data from unstructured data.

Read the solution brief
Intel oneAPI tools accelerating IBM Watson Natural Language Processing Library

Integrating Intel’s OneAPI and IBM Watson’s NLP Library can accelerate the performance of various NLP tasks, including sentiment analysis, topic modeling, named entity recognition, keyword extraction, text classification, entity categorization, and word embeddings.

Read the IBM Research blog
IBM Watson NLU and accelerators on Intel Xeon-based infrastructure

A quick overview of the integration of IBM Watson NLU and accelerators on Intel Xeon-based infrastructure with links to various resources.

Read the overview
Resources NLU Demo

Interact with a live demonstration of Watson NLU.


Find documentation for IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding.

API reference

Explore API documentation for Watson NLU.


Explore a collection of SDKs that work with the Watson REST APIs.

Getting started with NLP

Learn how to get started with natural language processing technology.

The How Behind NLP

Take a deep dive into how natural language processing technology works.

How to accrue USD 6.13M in benefits

Explore the results of an independent study explaining the benefits gained by Watson customers.

How to deploy custom models

Learn how to output custom models with Watson Knowledge Studio.

Related products Watson Natural Language Processing for Embed

Infuse powerful natural language AI into commercial applications with a containerized library designed to empower IBM partners with greater flexibility

Watson Discovery

Apply natural language processing to discover insights and answers more quickly, improving operational workflows.

Watson Assistant

Address customer requests across channels like digital and voice channels. Guide employees through internal processes. Best of all: allow your teams to focus on higher-value work, all while reducing costs.

Take the next step

Get started now with IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding and test drive the natural language AI service on IBM Cloud.

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