Stands for "Internet Protocol." IP provides a standard set of rules for sending and receiving data over the Internet. It allows devices running on different platforms to communicate with each other as long as they are connected to the Internet.

In order for an Internet-connected host to be recognized by other devices, it must have an IP address. This may be either an IPv4 or IPv6 address, but either way, it uniquely defines a device on the Internet.

The Internet Protocol also provides basic instructions for transferring packets between devices. However, it does not actually establish the connection or define the ordering of the packets transmitted. These aspects are handled by the Transmission Control Protocol, which works in conjunction with the Internet Protocol to transfer data between systems on the Internet. For this reason, connections between Internet-connected systems are often called "TCP/IP" connections.

NOTE: IP may also be short for "IP address," as in "What is your IP?" In this case, IP refers to the unique identifier of a system, not the protocol itself.

Updated January 27, 2016 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Verizon's FiOS service transfers data over what type of cable?

Fiber optic
Correct! Incorrect!     View the FiOS definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of IP on this page is an original definition written by the TechTerms.com team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of TechTerms.com is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.