The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
world-wide web \world"-wide` web"\, n.
The collective total of all computer installations that are
connected to the internet and provide access to other
computers connected to the internet, using hypertext
transfer protocol, to computer files called web pages, which
may have text, graphics, audio or animated video data, as
well as pages which may provide data or information in all
Syn: Web, the web, WWW.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing (30 December 2018):
(WWW, W3, the web) A
client-server hypertext distributed information retrieval
system, often referred to as "The Internet" though strictly
speaking, the Internet is the network and the web is just one
use of the network (others being e-mail, DNS, SSH).
Basically, the web consists of documents or web pages in HTML
format (a kind of hypertext), each of which has a unique URL
or "web address". Links in a page are URLs of other pages which
may be part of the same website or a page on another site on a
different web server anywhere on the Internet.
As well as HTML pages, a URL may refer to an image, some code
kinds of object. URLs typically start with "http://",
indicating that the page needs to be fetched using the HTTP
protocol or or "https://" for the HTTPS protocol which
encrypts the request and the resulting page for security.
The URL "scheme" (the bit before the ":") indicates the
protocol to use. These include FTP, the original protocol
for transferring files over the Internet. RTSP is a
streaming protocol that allow a continuous feed of audio
or video from the server to the browser. Gopher was a
predecessor of HTTP and Telnet starts an interactive
command-line session with a remote server.
The web is accessed using a client program known as a web
browser that runs on the user's computer. The browser
fetches and displays pages and allows the user to follow
links by clicking on them (or similar action) and to input
queries to the server. A variety of browsers are freely
available, e.g. Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet
Explorer, Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox. Early
browsers included NCSA Mosaic and Netscape Navigator.
Queries can be entered into "forms" which allow the user to
enter arbitrary text and select options from customisable
menus and other controls. The server processes each request -
either a simple URL or data from a form - and returns a
response, typically a page of HTML.
The World-Wide Web originated from the CERN High-Energy
Physics laboratories in Geneva, Switzerland. In the early
1990s, the developers at CERN spread word of the Web's
capabilities to scientific and academic audiences worldwide.
By September 1993, the share of Web traffic traversing the
NSFNET Internet backbone reached 75 gigabytes per
month or one percent. By July 1994 it was one terabyte per
The World Wide Web Consortium is the main standards body for
Following the widespread availability of web browsers and
servers from about 1995, organisations started using the same
software and protocols on their own private internal TCP/IP
networks giving rise to the term "intranet".
This dictionary is accessible via the Web at
An article by John December
W3 servers, clients and tools (http://w3.org/Status.html).