Let's say I have a document that is attached to an e-mail. Is there a short way to express "The e-mail this document is attached to"? Something like "the carrier e-mail", but not so strange sounding...

Basically I'm looking for a term that is similar in meaning to the hypothetical "attachee" (as in someone who attends an event being called an attendee). Does such a term exist?

  • This E-mail would seem to cover the situation nicely.
    – Oldcat
    Jan 6, 2015 at 1:00
  • 1
    @Oldcat Not if he's talking about e-mails in general. “This document’s [attachee e-mail] was sent encrypted, while this other document’s [attachee e-mail] was sent unencrypted”, for example. Jan 6, 2015 at 1:09
  • attachment-bearer?
    – ermanen
    Jan 6, 2015 at 1:28
  • parent: "1.3 A source or origin of a smaller or less important part" oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/…
    – Kris
    Jan 6, 2015 at 6:42

6 Answers 6


The parent document/the main document.

  • That works in a hierarchy of documents, but doesn't quite fit my situation, where the e-mail is merely "carrying" the document and the document is basically an extension of the e-mail. The e-mail is not the source or origin of the document and the document might or might not be the actual "main" thing (it could merely contain notes to the email body or the email body could merely point to the attached document). It's the closest answer yet, but it's still not quite there...
    – scenia
    Jan 6, 2015 at 10:46

Let's say I have a document that is attached to an e-mail.....a term that is similar in meaning to the hypothetical "attachee"

I don't think there is a single word for that, but you can always say the e-mail has an attachment.

  • 2
    That doesn't answer the question. Jan 6, 2015 at 1:06
  • @JanusBahsJacquet It does not, but not all questions have answers. If you can come up with something better I will surely upvote it.
    – Centaurus
    Jan 6, 2015 at 1:08
  • 2
    I've withdrawn my downvote after the edit. At least now the answer States that there probably is no ideal answer. Jan 6, 2015 at 1:10

When one sends a potential employer a résumé, one usually attaches a cover letter. The cover letter introduces the potential employee, and is considered by many employers to be a necessary accompaniment.

Perhaps cover email would fulfill the needs of the OP.


Off the top of my head, I would use the phrase accompanying email or if you're referring to attachments across multiple emails as Janus suggested, each attachment has a corresponding email.


A programmer might use the word 'parent'. You might try the word containing.


The problem is attachment has no direction - if A is attached to B, B is attached to A. That is why there is no such thing as "atachee".

When we talk about emails, there definately is a direction because from a computing perspective, the attachment isn't attached - it is included as something INSIDE/PART OF the message, not something connected to the message. This is where your problem comes from (I think).

However, the email is theoretically the one who instigated the "attachment" process, so I would use

The attaching email

e.g. "The document's attaching email...."

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