Future Perfect's "Is it Web site or website?" states:

Since the World Wide Web is a proper noun, we use initial upper-case letters, as we would with your surname, for example.

As for writing ‘Web site’ as one word, it is true that this is seen a great deal, but then, so is the spelling ‘recieve’ which is just plain wrong!

I disagree. Languages change over time, and I think 'website' has now become the accepted spelling. A Google search for 'website' returns almost 3 billion results, including the official website of the British Monarchy. If 'website' is good enough for Her Majesty, it's good enough for me :-)

What do you think?

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    I agree with you; "website" is fine nowadays, and Future Perfect is just plain wrong on this. – Jonik Sep 13 '10 at 14:00
  • These people are offering to sell tips on how to write English? – delete Sep 13 '10 at 14:45
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    @Shinto, flagrant wrongness for sale! Just £4. You should see what they say about e-mail! – nohat Sep 14 '10 at 3:00
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    I agree too, but there are style guides out there that dictate "Web site". Which is why two documents I recently wrote for work came back with lots of red ink on them. – user362 Sep 14 '10 at 20:25
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    Don't rely on what Google returns. It's smarter than you think ;) Especially because your search isn't limited to "website" only with double quotes. – fabrik Sep 16 '10 at 12:51

As for writing ‘Web site’ as one word, it is true that this is seen a great deal, but then, so is the spelling ‘recieve’ which is just plain wrong!

They do not actually provide an argument against website as one word. The fact that orthographical errors exist at all is not exactly compelling evidence. Consider this evidence:

  1. Obviously, similar compound words exist, both in terms of use and official definition: streetcar, doorman, jailhouse. There are hundreds of these.

  2. As VonC mentioned, both "website" and "Web site" are offered in most dictionaries.

  3. Regarding capitalization, many words derived from proper nouns do not retain capitalization, e.g. narcissist, sodomy, atlas, echo, siren. This was touched on previously regarding days of the week.

I think it is safe to say that website is clearly used hands-down more often than Web site, so I think it should certainly be regarded as at least a valid variant. (And it is, by most authorities on standard English.)

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  • "some words derived from proper nouns do not retain capitalization" - probably "most" rather than "some". – delete Sep 13 '10 at 14:45
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    @Shinto Sherlock: You are probably right, though I didn't want to overstate my argument without actually looking into it. But I will change it to at least "many". – Kosmonaut Sep 13 '10 at 14:54
  • Any particular reason for the downvote? I'd like to improve my answer if something is wrong with it. – Kosmonaut Sep 14 '10 at 15:48

website is at least mentioned in American Heritage Dictionary.
Its definition actually mentions "webpage"!

The Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition 2009 does include:

World English Dictionary
website (ˈwɛbˌsaɪt)

— n
a group of connected pages on the World Wide Web containing information on a particular subject

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To my mind, "web site" has its roots in the metaphor of the web as a place (along with the web-usage of terms like "addresss" and "home"). As that conceptualization becomes less useful (especially as younger generations are raised with the web being a much greater portion of the fabric of their lives) the importance of terms that directly reflect the place metaphor diminishes.

As such, "website" is not just acceptable but preferable.

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I used to try to keep it as formal as it originally was, i.e., "Web site", but I think at this point, "website" (or even "webpage") has become pretty commonly accepted, especially in light of other compound words like "streetcar" (essentially echoing Kosmonaut's thoughts on the matter).

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Technology may have accelerated the squashing of multi-word terms into new compound words. For instance, it's more straightforward to google for "website" than for "Web site". You don't have to worry about a false positive such as:

... on the World Wide Web. Site unseen, one may begin to think ...

The same is true for many terms, but I've found it particularly useful for technical terms.

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  • 1
    That false positive would anyway be incorrect: it should be "Sight" unseen. – Alex Jan 31 '11 at 19:04
  • @Alex, that would explain the ringing in my ears every time I look at it. Please forgive my contrived example, but I'm leaving it because I can't think of a better one. – Anguish Languish Feb 1 '11 at 20:17

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