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.[1] For example, http://bir.ds/ and http://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.[2] 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.[3] On Friday, May 3, 2002, was registered to create[4] 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".[5] 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."[6]

Yahoo! acquired[7] on June 14, 2005, and[8] on December 9, 2005.

On 11 September 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.[9] Many potential domain hacks, such as and,[10] 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 country code top-level domain (ccTLD) of Greenland. YouTube subsequently launched[11] using the ccTLD of Belgium.

In March 2010, National Public Radio launched its own URL shortener under the domain using the ccTLD of Puerto Rico.[12] 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.

International names[edit]

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

For example, makes use of the top-level domain (TLD) .gs (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands) to spell "blogs", makes use of the TLD .st (São Tomé and Príncipe) to spell "fast", uses the TLD .gy (Guyana) to spell "chronology", makes use of the TLD .am (Armenia) to spell the name of photo-sharing service "Instagram", makes use of the TLD .it (Italy) to spell "help me learn it", uses TLD .am (Armenia) and uses TLD .us (United States) and sharing it for subdomains with free hosting, and uses the TLD .ly (Libya) to spell "telly" (a popular British colloquial term for television).

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

In some cases, an entire country code domain 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.

.ly (Libya) has been used for English words that end with suffix "ly", such as Popular URL shortening services,, and use this hack.

The link shortening service was created as a reaction[citation needed] to Libyan registry suspending an adult oriented .ly link shortener.[13]

Further information: ccTLD § Unconventional_usage

Other languages[edit]

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 end with ch (i.e. -ich, -vich, -vych, -ovich), so .ch (ccTLD for Switzerland) are very interesting to them.[citation needed]

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

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 » ("here") in Portuguese or « ça » ("that") in Canadian French; local Canadian presence is required.

Hungarian domains sometimes use the Moroccan top level domain .ma (meaning "today").

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 colloquial diminutive for (e.g., or the well known 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 «nyet») means "no", so there are many domains in the format "" (e.g. meaning "no editor"). A similar use of .info (in many languages where the term signifies "information") is to use a negatory term and .info to yield local equivalents to "there is no information".[citation needed]

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 to be able create a hack for their name. Most prominent is .gle, created for Google to be used as

Other variations[edit]

Other variations of domain name hacking include symmetrical domain names, for example, which rotated 180 degrees gives exactly the same domain name.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Domain Hacks & Email Hacks (original domain hack article)
  2. ^ Whois domain search WHOIS record
  3. ^ "List of coolest hostnames and domain hacks circa 1995". Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Council of Country Code Administrators - Acceptable Use Policy .cx - Christmas Island
  6. ^ Domain Hacks Information (original domain hack search)
  7. ^ Winstead, Jim. sold June 14, 2005.
  8. ^ Schachter, Joshua (December 9, 2005). "y.ah.oo!". delicious blog. Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Montenegro .me tld to attract interest for domain hacks". 2007-11-08. Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  10. ^ "Going Once, Going Twice – Top .ME Names Up For Bid". Domain.ME. September 22, 2008. Archived from the original on August 25, 2009. Retrieved October 2, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Make Way for Links". Youtube Official Blog. Retrieved August 9, 2014. 
  12. ^ Andy Carvin, Daniel Jacobson and Jon Foreman. "You Say NPR, But On Twitter We Say". Retrieved 2013-02-23. 
  13. ^ Horn, Leslie (October 6, 2010). "Libya Seizes URL Shortener". PC Magazine.