Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Domain hack

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A domain hack is a domain name that suggests a word, phrase, or name when concatenating two or more adjacent levels of that domain. For example, "bir.ds" and "examp.le", using the fictitious country-code domains .ds and .le, suggest the word birds and example respectively. In this context, the word hack denotes a clever trick (as in programming), not an exploit or break-in (as in security).


Domain hacks offer the ability to produce short domain names. This makes them potentially valuable as redirectors, pastebins, base domains from which to delegate subdomains and URL shortening services.


On November 23, 1992, was registered. In the 1990s, several hostnames ending in "" were active. The concept of spelling out a phrase with the parts of a hostname to form a domain hack became well established. On Friday, May 3, 2002, was registered to create Delicious would later gain control of the domain, which had been parked since April 24, 2002, the day the .us ccTLD (country code top-level domain) was opened to second-level registrations. is a whois server, indicating the registered ownership information of a domain. It was established June 12, 2002 and registered to an address in Reykjavík, Iceland.

On January 14, 2004, the Christmas Island Internet Administration revoked .cx domain registration for shock site, a domain which used "" to form the word "sex". The domain was originally registered in 1999. Similar names had been used for parody sites such as or; in some cases, .cz (Czech Republic) or .kz (Kazakhstan) are substituted for .cx.

The term domain hack was coined by Matthew Doucette on November 3, 2004 to mean "an unconventional domain name that uses parts other than the SLD (second level domain) or third level domain to create the title of the domain name."

Yahoo! acquired on June 14, 2005, and on December 9, 2005.

On September 11, 2007, name servers for .me were delegated by IANA to the Government of Montenegro, with a two-year transition period for existing .yu names to be transferred to .me. One of the first steps taken in deploying .me online was to create as a domain space for personal sites. Many potential domain hacks, such as and, were held back by the registry as premium names for later auction. One .me domain hack example is

On December 15, 2009 Google launched its own URL shortener under the domain using the ccTLD of Greenland. YouTube subsequently launched using the ccTLD of Belgium. In 2015 Google used the domain hack for their newly launched Alphabet Inc..

In March 2010, National Public Radio launched its own URL shortener under the domain using the ccTLD of Puerto Rico. The domain is currently used to link to an NPR story page by its ID and is one of the shortest possible domain hacks.

In late 2010, Apple launched a URL shortener at the domain, using the ccTLD of Spain, in a similar move to Google's Unlike, which is public and can be used for any web address, is used only for iTunes Ping URL shortening.

Spotify also uses the URL Shortener, using the ccTLD of Finland, to link to artist, partners, playlists, albums and songs.

International names

In most cases, registration of these short domain names relies on the use of country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), each of which has a unique two-letter identifier.

For example, makes use of the ccTLD .gs (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) to spell "blogs", makes use of the ccTLD .st (São Tomé and Príncipe) to spell "fast", uses the ccTLD .gy (Guyana) to spell "chronology", makes use of the ccTLD .am (Armenia) to spell the name of photo-sharing service "Instagram", makes use of the ccTLD .it (Italy) to spell "help me learn it", uses ccTLD .am (Armenia) and uses ccTLD .us (United States) and sharing it for subdomains with free hosting, uses ccTLD .ly (Libya) to spell "telly" (a popular British colloquial term for television), and some of Danbooru-style imageboards that end their name with '-booru' suffix may use the ccTLD .ru (Russia) to spell their own name.

The third-level domains, and make use of the SLDs, and from the ccTLDs .us (United States), .to (Tonga) and .it (Italy) to spell "delicious", "crypto" and "exploit" respectively.

In some cases, an entire ccTLD has been re-purposed in its international marketing, such as .am (Armenia), .fm (Federated States of Micronesia), .cd (Democratic Republic of the Congo), .dj (Djibouti), and .tv (Tuvalu) for sites delivering various forms of audiovisual content.

Libya's ccTLD (.ly) has been used for English words that end with suffix "ly", such as Popular URL shortening services,, and use this hack. In 2010, Libyan registry suspended an adult oriented .ly link shortener.

Other languages

In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland the domain .ag for Antigua and Barbuda is used by corporations in the legal form of Aktiengesellschaft (commonly abbreviated as AG).

The American Samoa domain .as is popular in the handful of countries where A/S is the legal suffix for corporations.

Some organisations situated in Switzerland use TLDs to specifically refer to their canton (like the Belgian TLD .be for the Canton of Berne).

In Turkish, "biz" means "we", and can be used for emphasis at the end of "we are" sentences.

Family names in many Slavic languages written in internationalized variant end with ch (i.e. -ich, -vich, -vych, -ovich). This ch comes from Slavic "ć", "č", "ч", or "ћ". Therefore, the Swiss .ch ccTLD is an option. Another use case of .ch is for English words that end in ch, e.g. tech, punch, search, crunch, rich. Examples of such domains are,, and

Since the introduction of .eu domains (eu meaning "I" in Romanian, Galician and Portuguese), these domains have become popular in Romania, with people registering their names with the .eu extension.

In French, Italian and Portuguese, « là » or « lá » mean "there". As the .la domain (Laos) is available for second-level registration worldwide, this can be an easy way to get a short, catchy name like "go there". In Italy some TLDs are identical to Italian Provinces' identifier, such as .to (Turin) or .tv (Treviso) and are thus extensively used for web domains in the area. The Canadian domain .ca is also trivial to use as « cá » or « cà » ("here"), respectively in Portuguese and Neapolitan, or « ça » ("that"), in French; local Canadian presence is required.

Hungarian domains sometimes use the Moroccan top level domain .ma (meaning "today"). The Moldovan domain, .md, is used by doctors and medical companies, such as, after a legal fight to allow such usage outside of Moldova.

A fad amongst French-speakers was to register their names in the Niue TLD .nu, which in French and Portuguese means "nude" or "naked"; however, as of 2007, Niue authorities have revoked many of these domain names. The handful that remain are joke domains without actual nudity. French speakers often use the Jersey TLD .je, since "je" means "I" in French. In addition, .je is used in the Netherlands, as it can mean both "you" or "your", and "small", since the addition of -je to most nouns produces a diminutive form (e.g., or the defunct iPhone app (feestje meaning "party").

Likewise, Dutch, Swedish, and Danish speakers sometimes use .nu, because it means "now" in these languages. The TLD is still used by many Swedish sites, as prior to 2003 it was impossible for individuals (and difficult for organizations) to register arbitrary domains under the .se TLD.

In Russian, net (as «нет», or "nyet" transliterated character for charactee) means "no", so there are many domains in the format "" (e.g. meaning "no editor"), in many languages the term .info signifies "information".

In Czech, Polish and Slovak, to means "it", so there are many domains using Tonga's .to in the format "" (e.g.,, meaning "I will do it" in the Polish language or meaning "We will move it" as Slovak moving service). Notably, Czech file sharing service was founded in 2007, and its name "ulož to" means "save it".

In Slovenian, si is a dative form of the reciprocal personal pronoun and a second person form of the verb to be. As .si is a Slovenian ccTLD, domain hacks are abundant. Additionally, the domain is attractive to speakers of Romance languages, because it is a conjunction, pronoun or an affirmative interjection in many. ARNES limits the use of the domain to residents and entities of Slovenia.

In Spanish and Portuguese, ar is the ending of the infinitive of many verbs, so hacks with Argentina's TLD .ar are common (e.g., meaning "to educate").

One of the earliest commercial ISPs in Finland used the domain — a reference to science fiction.

In Latin, many second-declension nouns in the nominative singular case end in the suffix -us, which is echoed in the TLD .us. So it is possible to create Latin-word domain names, such as, which resembles the Latin word obscurus, which means dark, obscure, or unknown.

With the rise of new TLDs, some companies have registered entire TLDs in order to create a hack for their name. Most prominent is .gle, created for Google to be used as

Other variations

Other variations of domain name hacking include ambigram names, which when rotated 180° look exactly the same.


Domain hack Wikipedia