A domain name is the unique address that internet users enter into a web browser to access a website. It corresponds to a set of numbers called an IP (internet protocol) address, but is useful as domain names are easier to type and remember than IP addresses. Domain names generally share the same structure. They usually begin with the third-level domain, which is “www” (World Wide Web). The second-level domain follows, which identifies the organization or individual the site belongs to. The “top-level” domain goes next and indicates the type of organization the website is owned by. Examples include the more general “.com,” government organizations indicated by “.gov,” and educational institutions marked by “.edu.” For example, the domain name “www.cornell.edu” indicates that the website is owned by Cornell University, an educational institution.
Organizations may not own or use every domain name that shares their name. However, trademark law might prevent others from using trademarked names or names that are substantially similar to a trademarked name.
See also: Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]