email /ee'mayl/ (also written `e-mail' and `E-mail') 1. /n./ Electronic mail automatically passed through computer networks and/or via modems over common-carrier lines. Contrast snail-mail, paper-net, voice-net. See network address. 2. /vt./ To send electronic mail.

Oddly enough, the word `emailed' is actually listed in the OED; it means "embossed (with a raised pattern) or perh. arranged in a net or open work". A use from 1480 is given. The word is probably derived from French `'emaill'e' (enameled) and related to Old French `emmaille"ure' (network). A French correspondent tells us that in modern French, `email' is a hard enamel obtained by heating special paints in a furnace; an `emailleur' (no final e) is a craftsman who makes email (he generally paints some objects (like, say, jewelry) and cooks them in a furnace).

There are numerous spelling variants of this word. In Internet traffic up to 1995, `email' predominates, `e-mail' runs a not-too-distant second, and `E-mail' and `Email' are a distant third and fourth.

Return to Cool Jargon of the Day