Internet Definitions

Compiled expressly for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress
by the
Tech Center, Office of Religious Education Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese


This page of web definitions is presented for those who are new to the web and is part of our Congress Resource Web Pages.

ADDRESS Your electronic "post office box" address on the Internet. Internet users can send e-mail using your e-mail address - e.g., one of our e-mail addresses is
AOL Stands for "A(merica) O(n)L(ine)"
America Online, Inc., based in Virginia, originally began as a closed network content provider; meaning only AOL subscribers had access to AOL content. Today, this popular service provider continues to offer their own content (available only to AOL subscribers) as well as e-mail and Internet access that can be parentally controlled.
ARCHIE The term "Archie" is derived from "archive". 
An Internet search program used to locate files at
FTP sites. If you only browse the WWW you won't have to worry about this anyway! (Since all this fun began at the college level is it any wonder the words "Archie" and "Veronica" are used?)
ASCII Stands for "American Standard Code for Information Interchange."  
It really means plain vanilla, just "text only" - no extra codes are inserted, which makes it good for transferring text between different programs or between different platforms (i.e., PC and Macs).
.AU File extension ".au" (audio) indicates a type of sound file that you may encounter on the Web.
BROWSER A program used to display Web documents and resources; Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Opera are examples of web browsers.
BULK E-MAIL Often, an unsolicited mass mailing of messages to a list of obtained e-mail addresses (whether properly obtained or gleaned from some mass mailing program) - and usually SPAM.
CHAT ROOM A "Chat Room" is an online, virtual room where a text-based “chat session” takes place, where a number of users can interact in real time on various topics. Technically, a chat room is really a channel, but the term "room" is used to promote the chat metaphor. A chat room may or may not have a moderator, and usually is dedicated to a particular topic.
CYBERSPACE Meaning: the Internet.  
"Cyberspace" was reportedly coined by novelist William Gibson in his book, "Neuromancer."
DSL Digital Subscriber Line, a high-speed or "broadband" connection
DSL is transmission of digital data over regular telephone wires. DSL (originally for "digital subscriber loop") uses a high frequency over phone lines; regular telephone service uses a low frequency. DSL is about 35 times faster than a dial-up (28.8 Kbps analog) modem.
DOMAIN Basically, the name of the company who hosts the web page.  
The domain is what usually comes after the "http//:www..." part. Our domain is "". America Online's domain is ""  
For example, a domain can end in:  

    .COM     Commercial business  
    .EDU      Educational institutions  
    .GOV     Government institutions  
    .NET      Network provider/company  
    .ORG      Non-profit organizations

DOWNLOAD The process of transferring a file from the Web "down" to your PC.
E-MAIL Short for "E(lectronic)-MAIL"  
The most popular function on the Internet; it has the urgency of a phone call with the formality of a typed letter.
EMOTICON Better known as a "Smiley"; pronounced as "ee-mo-tee-con." See SMILEY
FAQ Stands for "Frequently Asked Questions"; pronounced like "facts"  
FAQs provide answers to commonly asked questions. Most newsgroups offer a FAQ section which posts useful information relating to the specific newsgroup topic. Before posting messages to a newsgroup, always check the FAQs.
FIREWALL A security measure used by some Internet sites to prevent intruders ("hackers") from trying to break into the system.
FLAME An unfriendly message posted to a newsgroup. Flames are meant to incite reaction.
FTP Stands for "File Transfer Protocol."  
A system used to transfer files between your computer and a server on the Net. You can post web pages with an FTP program.
.GIF File extension that stands for "Graphics Interchange Format."  
The extension ".gif" indicates a common type of graphic file that you may encounter on the Web. CompuServe originated this format. A GIF file is a good compression format for logos and pieces of art, photos are better compressed as
JPEG files.
GOPHER A text only, menu-based system for searching Internet resources. Gopher programs don't display graphics or text formatting which can be viewed on web browsers.
HOME PAGE Usually the first page encountered at a web site. The site (shown here as a hyperlink) brings up an index of hyperlinks to other pages within the site.
.HTML File extension that stands for "HyperText Markup Language."  
HTML (or HTM) is the language used to design Web pages to be able to be viewed by a browser like Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox.
HTTP Stands for "Hypertext Transfer Protocol."  
The communication protocol used to transfer Web pages over the Net so that they can be seen by a browser. Whether or not you type in "http://" (e.g., before the site name, most browsers now will automatically assume you are using HTTP and will insert it for you.
HYPERLINK The text or graphic element on a Web page that appears underlined or in a different color that, when clicked, will usually connect you to another web page.
INTERNET The "Internet" is the WHOLE network, it includes ALL of "cyberspace."
What you actually see with a browser (for example, Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox) is really the World Wide Web -- only a small fraction of the whole Internet. The "Internet" includes all the pages you see on the World Wide Web -- and twice as many pages that you can't see with a browser. (These other pages can be found through other information exchange formats, e.g., FTP, e-mail, news, TELNET, etc.)
IRC Stands for "Internet Relay Chat"  
A real-time chat room like found on AOL or other commercial
ISP, but this is on the Internet.
ISP Stands for "Internet Service Provider."  
An organization or business that provides you with Internet access- There are large commercial providers such as America Online (AOL) and CompuServe as well as local service providers in most cities.
.JPEG File extension that stands for "Joint Photographic Expert's Group."  
The extension ".jpeg" (for Macs) or ".jpg" (for PCs) indicates a common type of graphic file that you may encounter on the Web. These are usually photos. Photos are better compressed as JPEG files; logos and pieces of art compress better as
GIF files.
LISTSERV Commonly referred to as a generic mailing list. 
However, "listserv" is NOT a generic word. Actually, it is a registered trademark licensed exclusively to L-Soft international, Inc., as the name of its mailing list processor product.
MODEM Stands for "MO(dulate)/DEM(odulate)"  
An electronic board (internal) or box (external) that allows your computer to send and receive data over phone lines. The higher the modem's baud rate, the faster the data will transmit - popular modems are known as "28.8", "33.611, "56k" or with "x2" technology.
.MOV The file extension ".mov" (movie) indicates a type of video file that you may encounter on the Web. These MOV files are also known QuickTime files.
.MPEG File extension that stands for "Motion Picture Expert's Group"  
The extension ".mpeg" indicates a type of audio-video file that you may encounter on the Web.
NEWSGROUP Newsgroups are posted discussion groups on a particular topic; similar to electronic bulletin boards.
.PDF File extension that stands for "Portable Document Format"
Adobe offers a free display program (Acrobat Reader) which allows viewing, navigating, and printing of PDF files across all major computing platforms. Adobe's Acrobat Reader is the free viewing companion to Adobe Acrobat 3.0 and to Acrobat Capture software.
PPP Stands for "Point-to-Point Protocol"
A type of communication Protocol that facilitates Internet access over the phone lines without requiring a host computer. PPP runs over a modem, connections are usually rented from service providers. Services like AOL use PPP.
PROTOCOL The "language" computers use to talk to each other and share information. There are many standardized protocols that allow computers made by different manufacturers to speak the same "language."
QUICKTIME A digital video standard developed by Apple, QuickTime files include the extension ".mov" that can play on both PC and Macs.
SERVER Web pages are housed on servers (other computers you computer is "calling"). When viewing web pages on the Internet, your computer is actually requesting and receiving information from these other computers. It is your browser which allows you to actually see these pages.
SERVICE PROVIDER Meaning "Internet Service Provider" or ISP  
An organization or business that provides you with Internet access. There are large commercial providers such as America Online (AOL) and CompuServe as well as local service providers in most cities.
SHAREWARE Shareware is software available on the Internet which can be downloaded from the Internet. Shareware is NOT freeware; if you find it useful, you are asked to send the software developer a "registration" fee.
SLIP Stands for "Serial Line Internet Protocol." 
A type of communication protocol that facilitates Internet access over the phone lines without requiring a host computer. SLIP runs over a modem, and connections are usually rented from service providers. Similar to PPP but older.
SMILEY "Smileys" are created from keyboard symbols which appear as a face to suggest irony or humor. Smileys have a thousand variations, the most common being: 

    :-)     [a happy face] 
    :-(     [a sad face] 
    ;-)     [a wink] 
    (-:     [a left-handed happy face] 
    I-)     [a hearty chortle] 
    :-I     [clenched teeth] 
    :-O    [aghast]

SPAM Reportedly derived from Monty Python's "Spam" song.  
For most people, neither is too appealing. On the Internet, it refers to unsolicited mailing of messages to e-mail address or newsgroups. On the table, it's a trademarked "canned meat product consisting primarily of chopped pork pressed into a loaf "
TCP/IP Stands for "Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol."  
This is the way in which computers communicate on the Internet.
.TIFF File extension that stands for "Tagged Image File Format."  
The extension ".tiff" (for Macs) or ".tif" (for PCs) indicates a common type of graphic file that you may encounter on the Web. TIFF formats were originally developed by Aldus and Microsoft corporations.
URL Stands for "Uniform Resource Locator" or "Universal Resource Locator" (depending upon whom you ask)  
This really means just the web page address - for example, our URL is
UPLOAD The process of transferring a file from your computer "up" to the Web. The opposite of a "download."
USENET Similar to an electronic bulletin board, USENET includes thousands of subject newsgroups of all interests. People can post a message, comment or question to which others can post their response. Not all ISPs host all USENET groups - for a practical reason: there are so many newsgroups which take up so much server space that they will carry only certain groups and drop posts after a certain amount of time.
VIEWER A program (located on your computer) which a browser will use to display or play files which it can't - e.g., MPEG or AU type files. You would not be able to see these type of files without using an external program.
.WAV File extension that stands for "WAVeform" audio
WAV (or WAVE) is a Microsoft/IBM audio file format standard for storing audio compatible with Windows and Macintosh operating systems. It is the main format for "raw" (uncompressed) audio.
WEB BROWSER A program used to display Web documents and resources; Microsoft Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox are examples of  web browsers.
WEB PAGE The same as a "home page"; web pages are documents which are formatted in HTML.
WWW or  
It's all the same: "World Wide Web" or "Web" or "WWW" or "W3" (though some maintain it's the "World Wide Wait")  
A prefix to
URL addresses, as in
The World Wide Web is a graphical, hypermedia (mixing text, sound, links) interface for viewing and exchanging information on the Internet. Often used interchangeably with the term "Internet" (though it's not).
ZINE Stands for "(Electronic Maga)zine" or 'zine, or ezine  
A small electronic magazine, usually geared to a very specific group, usually to the author's personal interests.


Web Lingo


E-mail shorthand: By The Way


E-mail shorthand: For Your Information


E-mail shorthand: In My Humble (or Honest) Opinion 
This precedes someone's opinion that usually doesn't match the response you wanted!


E-mail shorthand: Laughing Out Loud 
Something cute or funny;
smileys work well here, too
ROTFL E-mail shorthand: Rolling On The Floor, Laughing 
Something particularly funny
YMMV E-mail shorthand: Your Mileage May Vary.  
Meaning: "But your experience may be completely different"

©1998 CeJy for the 1998 Religious Education Congress, Office of Religious Education, Archdiocese of Los Angeles
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