What Is In A Name: ELI5 Domain Names

What Is In A Name: ELI5 Domain Names

Hey there everyone! In this post, I will try to break down domain names, specifically the parts that make up a domain name and what each one does. I will also briefly explain why domain names exist in the first place.

Why Do Domain Names Exist

Before we actually talk about what domain names are, we’re going to talk about why they exist. Now, to connect to something like a website an the internet, we need to type in an address in our browsers address bar. Computers that handle the address book of the internet understand the addresses in the form of numbers called an IP address. To make it easier for people to remember the addresses of websites, the guys who manage the internet decided that certain combinations of words could be used as a representation of any IP address.

What Is A Domain Name

To ensure that you will be able to best understand my explanation I will start with an example of a domain name:


That’s it. That is an example of the domain name. The ‘www’, the ‘reggietheroman’ and the ‘com’ are the three parts of a domain name and here is the breakdown of each part,

www.reggietheroman.com – This part is called the sub-domain

www.reggietheroman.com – This part is called the second-level domain

www.reggietheroman.com – This is called the top-level domain

Now that we know what were talking about and what each part is called, we can talk about them in more detail.

The Top-Level Domain

Were going to start off with the top-level domain or TLD. The TLD is what you can see as the last part of the domain name. These TLDs are mainly either generic or country-specific TLDs. Originally, a TLD was used as an association to the type of website that was using it. Like com was used for companies, edu was used for colleges and universities and gov was used for government entities. Examples of country-specific TLDs would be ca for Canada, de for Germany and us for the U.S. of A.

The Second-Level Domain

The second level domain is the ‘name’ you combine with the top level domain to create a unique combination for people to type in to the address bar. I say combination because two domain names with the same second-level domain but different second-level domain (like reggietheroman.com and reggietheroman.co are entirely different). You can have anything you can think of for your domain name as long as you only use letters, numbers and hyphens. Also note that a domain name is at the most, 63 characters long.

The Sub-domain

Sub-domains are just a specific part of a bigger domain and it is also the only part of the domain name that is optional. sub-domains are useful for pointing to different specific parts of a domain.

Wikipedia for example, uses sub-domains for the different languages it comes in. en.wikipedia.org is the domain name for the English Wikipedia and it uses en for its sub-domain. Other Wikipedia sub-domains are de for German, fr for french and zh for Chinese.

Another domain name that uses sub-domains is Google’s . Google uses sub-domains for its different web applications. They use mail.google.com for Gmail, docs.google.com is for Google docs, drive.google.com is for Google drive, and surprisingly they use encrypted.google.com for Google search.

What Now

Now that you have an idea of what a domain name is, next time I will help you register a domain name with on Namecheap.

Edit: You can now find my post on how to register a domain name on Namecheap here.

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