Domain Lingo 101: Let’s Start With The Basics

By Lauren Lao, Manager of Marketing Communications

As the operator of the .org domain, it’s our job to not only provide a trusted platform for mission-driven organizations, but also to help people around the globe better understand and leverage the power of the internet. To help us educate internet users everywhere, we are excited to launch our new Domain Lingo 101 blog series, the first of several content series from Public Interest Registry designed to demystify the internet and the domain industry.

Whether you’re a newcomer to the domain industry or an internet user fascinated by the complex domain landscape, this series will help you decode the terms, players, topics, and issues that are critical within the world of domains.

Without further ado, we bring you our first post in the Domain Lingo 101 series, focused on basic domain terms. The below definitions will help you learn more about what a domain name is, different types of domains and how to find out whether a domain name is available to be registered.

Domain Name – A domain name is the identifier that is associated with a website (ex: org). It’s what you type into your address bar on your web browser to bring you to the website of your choosing. Domain names link to an associated IP address and save us from having to type in long strings of numbers every time we want to visit a website.

Domain Extension (or TLD) – A domain extension is the part of your domain name that comes after the dot. It’s characterized as the notation at the end of a web address that specifies an Internet category or a country code (ex: .org , com, .edu or .fr). The notations to the right of the dot are also referred to as top-level domains (TLD).

Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) – There are different types of domain extensions, and generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are one of the most common domain name categories. Legacy domains like .org, .com, .info, and .net are considered open gTLDs, which means anyone can register them.

Country Code Top-Level Domain (ccTLD) – A ccTLD is a type of top-level domain extension representing a country, sovereign state, or dependent territory. Examples of ccTLDs include .us, .in, and .nz. Unlike the gTLD domain category, ccTLDs are often restricted to those located in a particular country or region.

New Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) – In 2013, as a result of the continued growth of the domain industry, new gTLDs outside of the legacy gTLDs were introduced. The new gTLDs Program was launched by The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and enabled hundreds of new gTLDs to be considered domain extensions (ex: .ngo, .app, .store, or .news).

WHOIS Look Up – This database system serves as a search tool for both whether a domain name is currently available, as well as domain names’ registration information.

Congratulations, you have the domain basics down! We hope this first post will serve as a strong foundation as you continue learning about the broader domain industry. To continue your internet and domain education check out our Internet 101 post highlighting fun and surprising internet facts or test your knowledge by taking our Internet 101 quiz. Finally, don’t forget to check back monthly for ongoing posts in the Domain Lingo 101 series – the next one will focus on the people and organizations who play an important role in the domain industry.