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Dean Allemang, co-author of the well-reviewed (and readable) Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist gave a very simple definition of “ontology” in a December 2012 presentation as a:

Sharable, modular piece of metadata, where “sharable” means referenceable from other places, “modular” means self-contained.

That reads pretty clearly to me, even if it refers to a single item within an ontology rather than the ontology as a whole.