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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 émaillé (enameled) and related to Old French emmailleüre (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.