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Which is proper: Web site, web site, or website?

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We once had a pool on how long it would take before website took over as the standard term. While the victory is not yet complete, the single word, un-capitalized, seems to be gaining wider acceptance. It is a natural progression. A website is such a common everyday thing that it would seem odd that the only term describing it is hyphenated or two words, one capitalized.

Originally, of course, there was the World Wide Web. Along with the Internet, usage required the term to be capitalized because there is only one. There is a single Internet, just as there is only one planet Earth. So it is a proper noun. There is also only one World Wide Web, and using the term Web as a nickname indicates it should also be capitalized. Therefore, people thought, the term “Web site” was the proper usage. And, if you conceptualize Web site as describing a point on the unique World Wide Web, that would be correct. However, we don’t think that way. We deal with many, many websites on a daily basis. There is no particular reason to salute the connection of the website to the World Wide Web each time we mention it. Saying web site was such an obviously unnecessary step, most skipped it and went straight to saying website.

As of January 2005, Google will ask you if you meant “website” whenever you type in “Web site”. It does not question it in the other direction. Online dictionaries support the one-word version.