Word of the Day


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a system for sending messages from one computer to another

the messages that you receive by email

a written message sent by email

Origin and usage

Email, often spelled e-mail in American English, is a combination of the prefix e-, meaning ‘electronic’, and ‘mail’.


When a friend who worked in computing told me in the late 1970s that he was communicating with colleagues in other universities using a system called email that could be sent and collected without charge from any computer on a network, it seemed both exotic and almost too good to be true. Today, when it is estimated that the number of emails sent per day exceeds 200 billion and may even approach 300 billion, such wonder seems quaint.

Although the first message was sent between computers in 1969, email as we know it today was developed by an American computer scientist called Ray Tomlinson. In 1971 he developed a networked email system on ARPANET, a precursor of the internet. The first emails sent by Tomlinson have not been preserved and he later described their content as ‘forgettable’.


“Cellaholics are those who interrupt quality time when they are with you, but rather text, call, and email others who are somewhere else.”
(Jayce O’Neal)

“‘Amen’ is like the Send button on an email.”
(Steve Toltz)

Related words

inbox, mailbox, spam

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

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Macmillan Dictionary

Macmillan Dictionary

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