DAO stands for data access objects. It's a general term that relates to all of the things like the database, recordset, querydef, tabledef, fields and so forth. It's the VBA approach to working with your data.

Another approach is by using SQL. You can create & manipulate objects & data, but for the most part DAO is more powerful and flexible. The primary advantages of using SQL are 1) if you're coming from another type of database, you may already know it, and 2) each SQL statement is complete all by itself. It either works or it doesn't.