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Is it true to say that the terms DNS server and Nameserver are generally synonymous?

I don't think that in 100% of the cases when someone says a "DNS server" they necessarily mean to a name(DNS) server, but is it true to conclude that in generally all such cases this would indeed be the case?

Is it true to say that the terms DNS server and Nameserver are generally synonymous?

Perhaps this is answerable by some (very deep) formal/standard literature reference.

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  • What does DNS stand for? – Rob Mar 8 at 10:55
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    @Rob DNS is supposed to stand for "Domain Name System." However, the "S" in DNS is a bit ambiguous. It can sometimes mean "Service" or even "Server." – Stephen Ostermiller Mar 8 at 11:45
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    I think that in asking the question I was confused at least from the term "DNS server" by itself because it includes some plagiarism (in some meanings the term server is already included). Stephen Ostermiller brought up another good point of the "s" ambiguity. – timesharer Mar 8 at 16:29
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The context is everything, so in what sentence are you using them?

But other than that, yes a "DNS server" is a nameserver. As "DNS server" can be read as a server (any computer) having DNS functions (service), and a "nameserver" is the canonical term used for that (even if not appearing in RFC 1034 or 1035 and not defined formerly in RFC 8499 which is all about DNS terminology).

when someone says a "DNS server" they necessarily mean to a name(DNS) server

If not, what they mean then? What does the difference means there?

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  • I think that in asking the question I was confused at least from the term "DNS server" by itself because it includes some plagiarism (in some meanings the term server is already included). Stephen Ostermiller brought up another good point of the "s" ambiguity. On top of that there are some email (Gmail-standard?) records such as MX record which doesn't do a lot with a "name"... at least intuitively. – timesharer Mar 8 at 16:30
  • 1) Yes "DNS" is ambiguous depending on context it can be system, service, or other things. There are other ambiguities like "IDN name" or "DNS name" or TLD being abused to speak about things like "uk.com", etc. So the important point is context, and audience, depending on who you speak to you can do some shortcuts or not. 2) As for "records such as MX record which doesn't do a lot with a "name"", yes the DNS is not just for name-> IP mapping, there are far more information in it. Like MX you said, or TXT, or SRV, or the newer HTTPS record... – Patrick Mevzek Mar 8 at 16:37
  • And please remember that the DNS (as a system/protocol/framework) is over 40 years old, so its content/use, including MX records, predates any provider you might know of, so MX records are certainly not specific to any 2000-era big online provider. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domain_Name_System seems a good introduction on the subject and then you can ask for more specific points (but be sure to read the help here as such questions might be seen as offtopic because not exactly immediately related to running a website). – Patrick Mevzek Mar 8 at 16:39
  • I am quite familiar with the rules thanks :) and yes, about context, it is indeed very important but my question was general; perhaps the entire DNS terminology should be "updated" or "re-organized" (or both). – timesharer Mar 8 at 16:42
  • See RFC8499 that at least try to fix things once for all. A newer version is currently being drafted (not really to change already existing content but to add new things). You are welcome to participate in the IETF efforts to enhance this document. – Patrick Mevzek Mar 8 at 16:43

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