I have been seeing and using the symbols + or ++ whenever a new recipient is added to an existing email thread along with the original recipients in To or Cc.

Just curious about how this came into practice. Is there a definitive understanding of how + or ++ is being used in today's email communications?

Raising this question here as am not sure if this is the right site in stackex.

UPDATE: To clarify, the + or ++ symbols are added in the body of the email, not in To or CC.

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    I haven't seen that, and am not sure what you mean. Are you saying that the person's name is included with a "+" in the body of the email, or that the "+" appears right in the "To" or "CC" fields? (The latter wouldn't work in my office's email system.)
    – nnnnnn
    Nov 18, 2019 at 9:37
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is asking about email addressing syntax not English Language. E.g. neither my email system, nor some of the question commenters even use + or ++ to append to an existing email thread and distrib lists. (Mine uses semicolons.) Question seems to be out of scope for this site. Nov 18, 2019 at 10:11
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    @k1eran Right... but am just curious or looking for any usage guidelines for this practice anywhere... official or unofficial.
    – SimpleMan
    Nov 18, 2019 at 10:54
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    Okay, thanks @k1eran. That's what I was imagining, but I work in IT too and I haven't actually seen it in practice.
    – nnnnnn
    Nov 18, 2019 at 11:05
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is not about the English language or its usage.
    – Lawrence
    Nov 18, 2019 at 13:51

3 Answers 3


I would agree with instinct71. It's used as follows: - say an email is sent to a list of recipients, but someone was omitted or the topic needs to include other recipient(s). The new recipient(s) are added to the To: or CC: fields and their names are also added to the body of the email with a ++ or + , just to inform everyone on the current distribution that others have been added to the discussion. "++" came from C programming and non-programmers decided to reduce that to a simple "+"

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    I highly doubt that this can have anything to do with C.
    – kirelagin
    May 17, 2021 at 17:02

There is slight difference I have observed in usage of + and ++.

  • '+' Usually follows a name, to be informed or to action on.

  • '++' I disagree that this is a programming jargon despite I being a programmer. ++ usually does not follow a name. This is used when more than one person has been added to email. Sometime, It may be followed by names if possible. But mostly, it is to indicated that additional peoples have been added but need to specifically mention the names is not required or it is not possible to mention the names.


I have usually seen either "+SimpleMan" or simply "++". My guess is that this comes from computer programming jargon.

In programming "++" is a shorthand for "add 1 to a variable". For example: "a++" increases a's numerical value by 1. With emails, the variable under consideration is the list of email recipients. "+SimpleMan" (although not legal programming AFAIK) is specifically adding SimpleMan to the list of recipients.

  • So, to answer the OP. This is not widely used in email today. It is a feature of your own mail reader. Other people may not see it, or may see something else.
    – GEdgar
    Nov 18, 2019 at 10:53
  • I don't think it's a feature of the OP's mail reader, because it's not automatically inserted, but it's possibly a usage local to a certain group of people (maybe a workplace or academic department).
    – Stuart F
    Nov 18, 2019 at 12:30

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