e-mail or email?

 In Grammar, Web Dictionary and Texting

E-mail or email?  With internet terms so new there can be a lot of variations is the way we spell these words.  For clarification about the correct spelling for e-mail or email, traditional dictionaries and computer glossaries have not yet reached a final decision about the spelling.

 e-mail or email?

The word comes from the term ‘electronic mail.’  By combining these two words, and then shortening the first one, one word was created. According to all usage and spelling rules, this would suggest that the grammatically correct way to spell the word is e-mail.

However, even the esteemed Oxford Dictionary definition bucks this assumption:
“email (also e-mail)
Messages distributed by electronic means from one computer user to one or more recipients via a network:
Reading email has become the first task of the morning
I received a long, interesting email from my cousin in New Zealand.
Send an email to (someone):
I have to email the teacher about my daughter’s absence from school.
Email me when you have time
1980s: abbreviation of electronic mail.”

Interestingly enough, while the traditional Oxford dictionary spells it without the hyphen – email, one of the earliest and most respected publications about all things tech, Wired Magazine, says use the hyphen e-mail.

The bottom line is that because this is a new word, there no fast rule or standardized spelling for e-mail or email.  What ever you decide is correct is dependent on what authority – dictionaries, linguists,  emerging technologies magazines or online dictionaries – you wish to use as your guide.

The AP Stylebook, which standardizes grammar rules for writers and journalists – has dumped the hyphen.  This may be the beginning of the adopted of the spelling ’email’ just because the laws of rules and usage seem to be headed in this direction.

However, there will be many dissenters and the debate looks like it is not going away soon, because the argument for e-mail is a strong one. The word is a compound noun with the first word being an adjective which has been shortened to the first letter of the word.  Other examples of this rules include H-bomb and X-ray.  Furthermore, those close relatives of e-mail, with their first letter also being the abbreviation for electronic – e-commerce, e-learning –  use a hyphen. If you want to be consistent, you have to write ecommerce and  eeconomy – and these are just not correct!

 E-mail or email? You decide…

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