At work, I commonly type "voicemail box" and "voice mailbox" interchangeably so I'm wrong only half the time. Which one is correct?

I had a similar dilemma with "login to" and "log into", but this site has satisfied my curiosity by suggesting "log in to". I'm begrudgingly ready to create my own portmanteaus "loginto" and "voicemailbox".

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    These terms are new and evolving. I think with a search you will find other questions and answers in relation to log in and login. However, with respect to voicemail box and voice mailbox, I would prefer the first, but I concede I have no hard evidence to support that decision. Perhaps it needs to be three word "voice mail box" - or better, don't run the three "new" words together at all. So you simply say either "voicemail" or "mailbox".
    – Cargill
    Dec 8, 2015 at 3:21
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    Like @Cargill, I don't think we'll be able to point to a corpus as evidence of one being more "correct" than the other; for such evolving terms, the English-speaking community will eventually coalesce on one "correct" term, but we're not there yet. I would think that the tie between "mail" and "box" is more important (stronger) than the tie between "voice" and "mail," on the grounds that a "mail box" for "voicemail" is not in fact a "box" at all, but "voicemail" is in fact "voice mail." Thus I would prefer "voice mailbox." But, likely, neither is wrong.
    – Nonnal
    Dec 8, 2015 at 5:54
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    I do lean more towards "voice mailbox" because it sounds like "voice" is describing the type of "mailbox"
    – user38537
    Dec 8, 2015 at 10:59
  • Voicemail mailbox is probably the most "correct", so I'm leaning towards voice mailbox as a good contraction of sorts.
    – Curiosity
    Dec 14, 2021 at 4:51

4 Answers 4


There are three types of compound nouns.

  1. open or spaced - space between words (tennis shoe)

  2. hyphenated - hyphen between words (six-pack)

  3. closed or solid - no space or hyphen between words (bedroom)

Even though Wikipedia posted voice mail as a closed compound noun (still voice mail system is an open compound noun there) and you get more google hits for voicemail (18.1 million) than voice mail (9.9 million), this Ngram Viewer favors voice mail over voicemail. Also, another Ngram Viewer records more of voice mailbox or voice mail box than voicemail box.

As the two Ngram Viewers show, people started to use the words around year 1980 and as commented above, it is difficult to say which is correct. But, voice mailbox is the one which is favored.


Between "voicemail box" and "voice mailbox", there's seems to be slight preference for the former, but definitely not enough that the latter can be considered incorrect.

I looked at the websites for several phone/voice companies and found:

All of them use "voicemail" by itself also to refer to the box.

Note: The all-open spelling "voice mail box" seems to be predominantly used by the NY Times (and other US news sources), which Grammarist calls "editorially conservative". But Microsoft also has one instance of "voice mail" among their other instances of "voicemail", so there's not always consistency.


This one has nagged at me for years. After reading this post I have decided to change "voicemail" to "vmail". Now the "box" does not seem necessary.


'voicemail mailbox' might be the most correct, but I assume no one will start using it any time soon.

I like 'voicemailbox'; hopefully that's where we'll end up in 10 years.

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