In my e-mail account there are two sections with the labels "trash" and "junk" and I would like to know the difference between these two words.

I only can say that "junk" might be something that was once useful. But what is the real difference?

I will appreciate it if someone edits my question's tag because I do not know which one is the best.

  • 2
    Are you asking for the difference in real life, or for the difference as defined by your email provider? Which email service do you use? Oct 29, 2020 at 11:22
  • Junk can be something that will be useful. A case in point is that parts of the DNA sequence were thought to be 'junk' until their purpose was understood. Similarly with junk mail – you might say "hey this one is what I've been looking for". There is junk in my attic, but it is not trash until I clear it out. Oct 29, 2020 at 11:51
  • Are you asking about the difference between these two words generally, or just as they are used in the context of e-mail software (where they are technical terms)? The answer to the latter question is straightforward (and has already been provided by Ms. Bunting), but the former could be an interesting question to explore.
    – jsw29
    Oct 29, 2020 at 15:36
  • For use as a verb 'trash' sounds better than 'junk'.
    – Ram Pillai
    Jan 21, 2021 at 6:56

2 Answers 2


Junk in the modern context of junk mail refers to unsolicited messages (advertisements and possibly scams) which you probably don't want to open. Trash (in the context of email) is messages that were useful, but that you have deleted because you no longer need to keep them.

  • Junk mail usually (but not invariably) ends up in the trash. But normal email (say a confirmation of a business meeting) might go in the trash as well. In no longer needs to be in your inbox.
    – rajah9
    Oct 29, 2020 at 13:05
  • When I was a kid in London, we had what were called "junk shops" (not by their owners) usually located in low-income areas, and selling, cheaply, old furniture and other second-hand objects of low value. There was a somewhat vague distinction between these and the more up-market "antique shops" in richer areas. Sometimes articles such as paintings would find their way from the first type of shop to the second. Oct 29, 2020 at 13:58
  • @rajah9 Mail in the Junk folder is usually transferred to the Trash folder after it's been in Junk for a period of time. This gives the user time to find important emails which have been classified as Junk.
    – BoldBen
    Oct 30, 2020 at 5:44
  • @BoldBen The behavior you're describing may be unique to your email provider. I was trying to provide a distinction that the OP could understand regardless of his provider.
    – rajah9
    Oct 30, 2020 at 13:36

In the context of email, junk refers to junk mail otherwise known as spam (random ads, possible scams, or anything else your email program may file as spam). Trash is when you delete an email. They can be connected because for many email programs, junk mail that sits in the spam/junk folder for more than 30 days will be deleted to trash.

  • 1
    I gave you a +1 for this answer. It is actually better than the accepted answer. Oct 30, 2020 at 21:45

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