"A database is a collection of data elements (facts) stored in a computer in a systematic way, such that a computer program can consult it to answer questions. The answers to those questions become information that can be used to make decisions that may not be made with the data elements alone. The computer program used to manage and query a database is known as a database management system (DBMS). The properties of database systems are studied in information science." --Wikipedia
Well, now; that's quite a mouthful! Basically, a searchable database is a way of storing lots of information in such a way that you can search for listings by different criteria. For example, a database might include 500 different names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and so forth. Depending on how the database is set up, a visitor would be able to enter "Michigan" and the database would reply with a listing of only those people on the list who are located in Michigan. Entering "Michigan" in the "State" field as well as "Smith" in the "Last Name" field would give you a list of only those people living in Michigan with the last name Smith, and so on. Databases can be very simple or very complex, depending on your needs and budget. For a real-world example, visit Brainwrap client APASC (click on "Find a Consultant").