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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary (also found in English - English (Wordnet), English - Vietnamese)
electronic mail
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messaging (e-mail) Messages automatically passed from one
computer user to another, often through computer networks
and/or via modems over telephone lines.
A message, especially one following the common RFC 822
standard, begins with several lines of headers, followed
by a blank line, and the body of the message. An increasing
number of e-mail systems support the MIME standard which
allows the message body to contain "attachments" of
different kinds rather than just one block of plain ASCII
text. It is conventional for the body to end with a
Headers give the name and electronic mail address of the
sender and recipient(s), the time and date when it was sent
and a subject. There are many other headers which may get
added by different message handling systems during delivery.
The message is "composed" by the sender, usuallya using a
special program - a "Mail User Agent" (MUA). It is then
passed to some kind of "Message Transfer Agent" (MTA) - a
program which is responsible for either delivering the message
locally or passing it to another MTA, often on another host.
MTAs on different hosts on a network often communicate using
SMTP. The message is eventually delivered to the
recipient's mailbox - normally a file on his computer - from
where he can read it using a mail reading program (which may
or may not be the same MUA as used by the sender).
The form "email" is also common, but is less suggestive of the
correct pronunciation and derivation than "e-mail". The word
is used as a noun for the concept ("Isn't e-mail great?", "Are
you on e-mail?"), a collection of (unread) messages ("I spent
all night reading my e-mail"), and as a verb meaining "to send
(something in) an e-mail message" ("I'll e-mail you (my
report)"). The use of "an e-mail" as a count noun for an
e-mail message, and plural "e-mails", is now (2000) also well
established despite the fact that "mail" is definitely a mass
Oddly enough, the word "emailed" is actually listed in the
Oxford English Dictionary. It means "embossed (with a raised
pattern) or arranged in a net work". A use from 1480 is
given. The word is derived from French "emmailleure",
network. Also "email" is German for enamel.