Home : Internet Terms : Email Address Definition

Email Address

An email address is a unique identifier for an email account. It is used to both send and receive email messages over the Internet. Similar to physical mail, an email message requires an address for both the sender and recipient in order to be sent successfully.

Every email address has two main parts: a username and domain name. The username comes first, followed by an at (@) symbol, followed by the domain name. In the example below, "mail" is the username and "techterms.com" is the domain name.


When a message is sent (typically through the SMTP protocol), the sending mail server checks for another mail server on the Internet that corresponds with the domain name of the recipient's address. For example, if someone sends a message to a user at techterms.com, the mail server will first make sure there is a mail server responding at techterms.com. If so, it will check with the mail server to see if the username is valid. If the user exists, the message will be delivered.

Email Address Formatting

While a basic email address consists of only a username and domain name, most email clients and webmail systems include names with email addresses. An email address that contains a name is formatted with the name first, followed by the email address enclosed in angle brackets, as shown below.

Full Name <user@domain.com>

Email can be sent to recipients with or without a name next to the email address. However, emails sent to addresses that include a name are less likely to be filtered as spam. Therefore, it is a good idea to fill in your full name when setting up an email account. Most mail clients and webmail systems will automatically include your name in your sending email address.

NOTE: When manually typing an email address into the To: field, it is a good idea to use the "Full Name" formatting as shown above and include the person's name before the email address. This will help prevent the message from being incorrectly flagged as spam.

Updated: October 13, 2016

Cite this definition:


TechTerms - The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

This page contains a technical definition of Email Address. It explains in computing terminology what Email Address means and is one of many Internet terms in the TechTerms dictionary.

All definitions on the TechTerms website are written to be technically accurate but also easy to understand. If you find this Email Address definition to be helpful, you can reference it using the citation links above. If you think a term should be updated or added to the TechTerms dictionary, please email TechTerms!

Subscribe to the TechTerms Newsletter to get featured terms and quizzes right in your inbox. You can choose to receive either a daily or weekly email.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe at any time.
Questions? Please contact us.