What the difference between these words ?

  • register
  • subscribe
  • sign up
  • opt-in

I'm creating a website registration page and was wondering what name to use in the URL https://my.website.com/register

  • If it's the registration page, register does seem the most logical choice. Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 16:51
  • 1
    Welcome! Please edit to show that you've looked all of these words (or phrases) up in a dictionary, what you found, and what uncertainties the dictionary fails to resolve. Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 16:56
  • (Also: although the names of routes are technically customer-facing, the main consideration should be technical. You can't use "sign up" with a space; you'll need either sign%20up or something like "signup" or "sign-up". Commented Mar 10, 2022 at 16:58
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    It is not clear what research the OP is supposed to have done in order to prevent this question from being closed. It is fairly obvious, and hardly in need of being explicitly proven, that they are fairly close in meaning, and it is thus reasonable to wonder how they can be distinguished. Entries in standard dictionaries focus on the meaning of the particular word and usually do not make it explicit how it differs from the meaning of similar words, so they can't be expected to delimit the four concepts in the way that the OP is seeking.
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 21:50
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    The one answer posted so far is reasonable, but, given that the question is unlikely to be deleted, it is in the interest of future visitors to this page, that it be exposed to the competition of other answers.
    – jsw29
    Commented Mar 13, 2022 at 21:55

1 Answer 1

  • Register means to add your self to a registry. This is the same as sign-up essentially. Though sign-up is less formal. You register so that you can be allowed to sign in.

  • Sign up means you are committed to something. You are joining a program or activity. While I think largely this is the same as register. It seems to me that while you register school, you sign up for classes. (As I understand it, to sign up (verb), and sign-up (noun, informal))

  • Subscribe means that you receive messages, publications, or anything that people send out to a group of people. If you subscribe to magazine, you get a magazine. If you subscribe to a YouTube channel you get notifications.

  • Opt-in, I believe, comes from option. Opt-in can be used interchangeably with sign-up. Though I think the distinction is that one needs to be signed up for something before they can option in or option out of a portion of it.

Each word signifies a different level or type of involvement. I think we could sum it up in the following sentences:

I register for school.

I sign up for classes.

I subscribe to the school newsletter.

I opt-in to the school lunch program.

With register, I join the organization. With sign-up, I involve myself in the organization. With subscribe, I sign up to receive what they send out. With opt-in, I choose to participate in a particular aspect of involvement.


/register would be great for sign ups. On the login pages, you could have the option to register or sign up.

  • 2
    A good summary. Opt in is a bit funny because its popularity largely derives from opt out, which means to choose not to receive some part of a service. Websites used to allow you to opt out, which meant the default was to not opt out (i.e. you get everything they offer), but now (as a result of legislation) they let you opt in, which means the default is to opt out. So effectively opt in means to select something, but you'll most often see it from a website or company offering you cookies or emails or advertising or something of that sort that is of little value.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 10:49
  • You are right, it doesn't fit as well as the others. Commented Mar 14, 2022 at 15:28

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