Objectives - Knowledge translation (KT) is becoming common vocabulary, but as a concept it is not clearly defined. Many related terms exist; these are often used interchangeably and given multiple interpretations. While there is a growing body of literature exploring these concepts, using it to inform public health practice, strategy, research and education is challenging given the range of sources and need for local 'contextual fit'. This study explores how various public health stakeholders make sense of, and experience, KT and related concepts. Study design - A qualitative mapping study using a phenomenographic approach. Methods - Thirty-four academics, students and practitioners working in public health across the north east of England participated in six focus groups and five one-to-one interviews. Discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed using a thematic framework approach. The framework drew on findings from reviews of the existing literature, whilst allowing unanticipated issues to emerge. Results - Three main themes were identified from the stakeholder discussions. Conclusions - This study has enabled further development of theoretical understandings of the KT discourses at play in public health, and identified the ways in which these may be bound by discipline and context. Ironically, the findings suggest that terms such as knowledge translation, transfer and exchange are seen as themselves requiring translation, or at least debate and discussion.