I’ve always used the “website” word in referring to websites. However, several dictionaries (including the Oxford dictionary) mention that one of “site’s” definition is actually “a website”:

Definition of site in English:

  1. A website:
    ‘the site has no ads and is not being promoted with banners’

Also, The New York Times name their website map as “Site Map”, and The Guardian has news articles with the “site” word in the title.

Which is the proper and the more common way of referring to websites today?

  • 1
    Eat dozen madder. Jan 6 '16 at 9:19
  • 1
    I think “site map” is a separate term, there’s no such thing as a “website map”. Jan 6 '16 at 9:21
  • @iamakulov "Web site" is another possibility... books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Elian
    Jan 6 '16 at 10:16

Both ways are in full use. I'd venture to say you'd find many use both and use them interchangeably. I know I do. Perhaps people might sometimes steer towards website when concerned about the ambiguity that site can create in a given context. For example, I might say, "I visited Amazon's site," but say, "I visited Barnes & Noble's website," because Amazon is only known as being Internet-based, whereas Barnes & Noble is also known for having brick-and-mortar stores, so saying I visited their site could mislead the hearer to think I had visited a physical location rather than an electronic one. Aside from that scenario, I don't see any rhyme or reason to how people choose to use site or website. Maybe we'll see website slide away over time as the abbreviated site takes firmer hold. Maybe not.


Site is defined as:

  1. an area of ground on which a town, building, or monument is constructed.
       "the proposed site of a hydroelectric dam"
    synonyms: plot, lot, areal; plot "a building site"

  2. a website.
    "the site has no ads and is not being promoted with banners"

The first meaning can be interpreted as 'an area on the internet', meaning a webpage. That's why site map will point to individual pages usually. Website however could represent a collection of webpages, and is also interchangeable with site.

Site can also be considered short for web site, which in itself, is rarely used (once for every 1000 times website is used) nowadays. Hence website is more common and probably more appropriate.

  • The 1:1000 ratio is mentioned for “Web site vs. website”, not for “Site vs. website”. Jan 6 '16 at 10:00
  • Yes, I have said that only. I've given an example where site may be short for web site. Jan 6 '16 at 10:01
  • Ah, yep, misread that. Jan 6 '16 at 10:02

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