Etymology
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e-mail 

1982, short for electronic mail (1977; see electronic + mail (n.1)); this led to the contemptuous application of snail mail (1983) to the old system.

Even aerial navigation in 1999 was found too slow to convey and deliver the mails. The pneumatic tube system was even swifter, and with such facilities at hand it is not surprising that people in San Francisco received four daily editions of the Manhattan journals, although the distance between Sandy Hook and the Golden Gate is a matter of 3,600 miles. ["Looking Forward," Arthur Bird, 1899]

Associated Press style guide collapsed it to email 2011.

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email (n.)

type of pottery design pattern, 1853, from French email, earlier esmail (12c.), literally "enamel" (see enamel (n.)). Also now a variant of e-mail.

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mail (n.3)

"rent, payment," from late Old English mal; see blackmail (n.).

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e- 

the later Romans evidently found words beginning in sc-, sp-, st- difficult or unpleasant to pronounce; in Late Latin forms begin to emerge in i- (such as ispatium, ispiritu), and from 5c. this shifted to e-. The development was carried into the Romanic languages, especially Old French, and the French words were modified further after 15c. by natural loss of -s- (the suppression being marked by an acute accent on the e-), while in other cases the word was formally corrected back to the Latin spelling (for example spécial). Hence French état for Old French estat for Latin status, etc. It also affected Romanic borrowings from Germanic (such as espy, eschew).

A different e- is a reduced form of Latin ex- before consonants (see ex-), and the e- in enough is an unfelt survival of an Old English alternative form of ge-.

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mail (n.2)

"metal ring armor," c. 1300, from Old French maille "link of mail, mesh of net," from Latin macula "mesh in a net," originally "spot, blemish," on notion that the gaps in a net or mesh looked like spots. Its use dates from late Roman times. The favorite armor in Europe 12c.-13c., it was effective, but heavy and costly.

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mail (n.1)

"post, letters," c. 1200, "a traveling bag, sack for keeping small articles of personal property," a sense now obsolete, from Old French male "wallet, bag, bundle," from Frankish *malha or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *malho- (source also of Old High German malaha "wallet, bag," Middle Dutch male "bag"), from PIE *molko- "skin, bag."

The sense was extended to "bag full of letters" (1650s; perhaps via phrases such as a mail of letters, 1654) and "person or vehicle that carries postal matter" (1650s). From thence, to "letters and parcels" generally (1680s) and "the system of transmission by public post" (1690s).

As a newspaper name, by 1789. In 19c. England, mail was letters going abroad, while home dispatches were post. Sense of "a personal batch of letters" is from 1844, originally American English. Mail slot "narrow opening in an exterior door of a building to receive mail delivery" is by 1893, American English. OED defines it as a "letter-slit."

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mail (v.)

"send by post," 1828, American English, from mail (n.1). "The usual word in the U.K. is still post" [OED]. Related: Mailed; mailing; mailable. Mailing list "register of addresses" is attested from 1876.

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air mail (n.)

also air-mail, airmail, 1913, from air (n.1) meaning "by aircraft" + mail (n.1). As a verb by 1919. Related: Air-mailed.

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