So, What’s in a Domain Name Extension?

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When searching for UK domain names, you may be curious as to what that ‘.com’ at the end of your potential website’s name means. Well, wonder no longer! We’ll be examining different domain name extensions and their meanings so you can pick one that best suits your website’s purposes.

First, let’s start by looking at what a domain name is, exactly. Before websites had specific names, IP addresses were used. However, typing in a long sequence of numbers can be both tedious and easy to forget, therefore, domain name extensions were developed. Abbreviated names were developed for use instead: kind of like using an address book for IPs.


The extensions on websites were originally intended to convey what that particular website was. Seven in total were first developed for this purpose: .COM, .NET, .ORG, .EDU, .GOV, .MIL, and .ARPA. The first three have since become much less specific in usage, and the last four have stayed the same, though .ARPA is no longer in use. Things have changed somewhat since then and today, domain name extensions are often used to indicate where exactly you are in the world. That said, it is still important to have a grasp of what the magnificent seven stood for, so let’s take a look.

  • .COM is short for ‘commercial’ and was meant to indicate a website dedicated to a business or other commercial entity. Today, it is widely used regardless of its former connotation.
  • .NET is short for ‘network’ and originally was meant for network technology-related organisations. It, .COM, and .ORG to a slightly lesser extent, have all developed to be more widely used outside of their original intentions.
  • .ORG is an abbreviation of ‘organisation’ that was first used to indicate that the domain was for a non-profit set-up. Today, other organizations such as private schools, community groups and events, and businesses and other commercial entities all use .org.
  • .EDU was specifically used for United States-accredited schools, especially colleges, universities, and technical schools.
  • .GOV, short for ‘government’, is a domain name extension used only for United States government organizations. UK government websites have the extended .GOV.UK
  • .MIL is short for ‘military’ and is specifically meant for use by branches of the United States military and has been since its inception.
  • .ARPA has been as good as phased out, as it was the first domain name extension. This extension was shorthand for ‘ARPANET’, which is a precursor to the Internet, and was used as a transitional extension for websites making the switch between ARPANET and Internet.

Aside from these original seven codes, some newer ones have been developed, such as .BIZ and .INFO, but none have really caught on or saw the popularity that .COM did. Country codes are also in use, and are two-letter codes put at the end of a domain name to indicate the origin country of a website. The most popular ones in use today are .DE (Germany) and .UK (United Kingdom).

Other countries, such as Tuvalu and Montenegro – whose extensions are .TV and .ME respectively – have allowed their country codes to be used for other purposes. Regional commerce domain extensions are also used, e.g. .CO.UK, .ASIA, and .COM.AU, to indicate where a commercial entity’s business originated or is targeted.

Now, with all of this information in mind, here’s an interesting fact: it’s said that there are as many as 1900 domain name extensions that have been proposed for a plethora of specific purposes, from .NEWS to .PIZZA. However, before these can be officially put to use, ICANN, the non-profit that oversees the adoption and use of domain name extensions, has to pore over them before they can be introduced to the public.

The continuous reign of the .COM colossus has made efforts undertaken to put a new domain extension on the throne seem daunting at best, especially since it’s already familiar and ubiquitous enough for businesses and users alike. Would people be more apt to take a restaurant with .PIZZA tacked onto the end of its home page more seriously than a simple .COM? Only time will tell.



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