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What does the term "street address" mean, as opposed to just "address"?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 15 down vote accepted

An (unqualified) address can be a post-office box or APO address or the like — any place that can receive mail. People often use "street address" when they need to be able to find a person there, e.g. for packages that require signatures.

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A quick google on "street address" confirms that it's frequently accompanied by not/and/or PO Box. Possibly there's also a suggestion that they're more 'trustable', like @yourISP email addresses as opposed to, say, @hotmail, which isn't accepted everywhere. –  FumbleFingers May 26 '11 at 21:41
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In addition, other carriers besides the postal service deliver packages. In the US, UPS and FedEx can't deliver to a PO Box, but can deliver to a street address. –  thursdaysgeek May 27 '11 at 0:03
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My brother had a street address that was different than his mailing address; due to a quirk in the building plan, the mailboxes were on one street, the building entrance on another. He described his street address as "the place where you visit" and his mailing address as "the place where the bills visit." –  KitFox May 27 '11 at 0:26
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@Kit: if only the bills knew how to judge when a visit has gone on too long. :-) –  Monica Cellio May 27 '11 at 1:30
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Sometimes, "street address" refers to your physical location at a finer level than city. E.g., "1313 Mockingbird Lane", without the city name attached.

But yes, usually it's just a retronym to distinguish it from mailing address (originally) and now e-mail address, web address, IP address, and so forth.

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This is where I see it most often; one line, typically the first line after the recipient's name, indicating the house/curb number and street on which that person is located. If you want to know where a person actually lives (or does business), instead of where they receive their postal mail, that's typically called their "physical address" or "shipping address". –  KeithS Sep 11 '13 at 19:44
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'Address' on its own can refer to 'email address', 'website address' and 'street address'.

'Street' is, therefore, a specifier to 'address', indicating that 'mailing' or 'postal' address is required.

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Street address is exactly what it says, while an address can be any address: e-mail address, for example, which are distinguishable by the context.

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For my part, as a forms designer for software applications and websites, what I would consider the "street address" is as Malvolio said first; the line of a full address containing the curb number of your building (house or apartment) and the street. "1234 Main Street" is the street address.

To this, you may add a second line, indicating the apartment, suite or other sub-unit of that curb address, before specifying the city, state, country (for international mail) and ZIP code.

The more general meaning of "the address of the building at which you actually live or do business, as opposed to where you receive mail or packages", is IMO better served with the term "physical address". Parcel companies typically require this address as opposed to the address at which you have a mailbox; however, even shipping companies can be directed to deliver packages to an address other than where the recipient lives. This address would be the "shipping address".

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