Which name is best for a variable that contains the email address or name of a person to whom a computer program will send email? Recipient, receiver or ...

I'm computer programmer and try my best to make the variable names as clear and meaningful as possible so other people will be able to understand my programs. Some times this makes me scratch my head.

  • 2
    I will choose recipient Jan 9, 2020 at 8:50

2 Answers 2


The Recipient is the person the email is addressed to

You might want to read something like SMTP Protocol, POP Protocol or Email for technical terms.

Receiver does not equate to the person who ends up getting the mail (in my understanding of the technical terms anyway)

In SMTP the receiver is the server that receives the email from the email client, in order to send it to it's destination. (Client=Sender, Server=Receiver)

In POP the receiver is the client software. (Server=Sender,Client=Receiver)

During transmission from the author's mail server to the recipient's mail server each step probably acts as sender/receiver until it reaches the destination.

This is just my limited understanding of the situation though - this question could possibly do with moving to a different stack as I think it may be more of a technical term discussion (not sure whether SO/SF though)

tldr; Recieving and Receiver would be more for talk about transmission from author's email client, through the server network to the addressee's mail server/client, and Recipient to indicate the Addressee.


Recipient is more commonly used for the person/mailbox etc. that receives an email.

Don't have a source for this, but my feeling is that this is because receiver already has a specific meaning.

"receiver" used to be used for the handset of a landline-style telephone, but it also has some specific meanings in electronics.


For this reason, I'd stick with recipient.

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