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What Does .com Stand for: Origins and Definition

If you are like most people, you’ve seen or typed .com countless times in your online journeys. But what does .com stand for? Why do so many websites use it?

Isn’t it interesting that the .com abbreviation is part of virtually every online browsing experience, yet you have yet to learn what it means? Since the same abbreviation can mean completely different things, knowing what .com means in current internet circles is vital.

Today, I will definitively answer the “what does .com stand for” question.

What does .com stand for?

Before answering “what does .com stand for?” in detail, let’s first address a related, foundational question: “what is .com?”

In internet circles, .com is one of the generic top-level domains (TLDs) alongside .co, .us, .net and .org. You can use any of these top-level domains when making a website. Most popular TLD extensions have three letters and appear as a suffix on website domain names.

“.Com” is short for commercial. So it follows that commercial websites use this popular domain extension. Commercial sites include business blogs, websites, and any site that wants to make money online. However, .com isn’t restricted to commercial websites. Anyone can buy a .com domain without worrying about the restrictions put on some TLDs like .edu.

The following common extensions are also abbreviations based on the first three letters, like .com:

  • 👉 .edu for educational websites
  • 👉 .gov for government websites
  • 👉 .org for organizations (non-profits)

These first three letters’ derivations of popular domains make the commercial basis of .com a reasonable theory.

What’s the origin of .com?

Another thing to consider when answering the question “what does .com stand for” is the origin of .com. Where did it come from? When did it first appear?

These are the questions we will answer next.

Symbolics, a computer company, registered the .com domain in March 1985 when the Domain Name System (DNS) was launched. Before then, educational institutions and scientific research centers dominated the internet. They used it mainly for communication and research purposes, a far cry from the internet’s varied uses today as the epicenter for global communication and a robust ecommerce tool.

So when Symbolics claimed the .com extension, it was a historic moment.

It was the first time the extension was used for business purposes. From then on, the .com domain grew exponentially as more and more companies adopted it, especially during the Dotcom Bubble in the 1990s. Today .com is the most widely used and recognized domain on the internet.

Interestingly, some tech experts such as Jack Haverty argue that .com was taken from the word company, not commercial. Since “company” also starts with “com,” this explanation sounds plausible. The companies in question were contractors hired by the government on a contract basis.

Whether they derived .com from “company” or “commercial”, what’s undeniable is that .com is now the unchallenged king of domain extensions. According to Statista, .com commands a massive 52.8% of the top-level domain market share, translating to 160.9 million domains with a .com domain [1]. The .org domain comes at a distant second with a mere 4.4% slice of the market [2].

What does .com stand for: domain TLD market share graph

The .ru TLD comes third with a 4.2% popularity rating.

There is stiff competition between second and third place, but .com is the undisputed number one top-level domain by a wide margin.

While .com is now widely accepted in tech circles as the short form for commercial, there are other potential meanings of the abbreviation.

Other potential meanings of .com

Next, let’s look at 🔎 other possible meanings of .com.

You will come across the .com abbreviation in other contexts besides the internet. It means something different in each case.

What is COM in Microsoft?

In Microsoft technology, COM means Component Object Model. It’s a vital foundational software architecture used to create Microsoft programming languages. Microsoft launched COM in 1993.

What’s a COM port?

Regarding personal computers (PCs), COM stands for communication port. COM ports connect PCs to serial devices such as modems, sensors, industrial equipment, GPS units, and power inverters.

What is COM in electrical?

In electrical wiring terms, COM means common terminal. COM refers to a live wire that supplies the input voltage to electrical switches.

Examine the context to understand what COM means when you encounter it. Notice that when com is used for anything other than domains, it doesn’t have a dot. That said, it’s safe to say in most cases, .com refers to a top-level domain extension.

Why bother buying a .com domain?

I’ve answered the “what does .com stand for” question and given you an overview of the origins of the .com domain.

But, what’s the big deal with the .com domain? Is it worth getting a .com? Why go through all the trouble of explaining the meaning of .com?

These are good questions that deserve an answer.

Basically, there are two reasons you should make a .com domain your first preference when buying a domain. First, because .com dominates the internet, most users think it’s more legitimate than other domains. If your business uses .com, people will trust it more.

Secondly, since most websites use the .com domain, internet users remember it better than other extensions. In other words, when most people type a domain name, they assume it’s .com. A study by Growth Badger showed that .com tops both the memorability and trust ratings when compared to other top-level domains [3].

What does .com stand for: Growth Badger TLDs memorability and trust study

As you can see, .com is 3.5 times more trustworthy and 44% more memorable than URLs with other TLDs.

So, all things being equal, buying a .com domain gives your website an advantage.

Speaking of buying… 🛒

How much does a .com cost?

In summary, throughout this article, we’ve established that .com is a sought-after TLD.

Let’s wrap up our what does .com stand for guide by considering how much it costs.

👉 Here are the current going prices for the .com domain from some of the best domain registrars:

The .com domain is affordable. You can get under $15 per unless it’s a premium exact-match domain name monied investors are vying for. In that case, its value can go up to millions.

🚧 Ready to build a website using .com, the king of domains?

Take the next step by reading our guide on 📚 how to choose a domain name.