examples of systems with "read receipts":

If the recipient enables Read Receipts, the sender will be able to see when the recipient has read the message.
Messages also introduced typing indication, delivery and read receipts.

  • RCS messaging

For email and other systems with "read receipts", is the word "read" pronounced "reed" or "red"?

brownie points: for a good explanation on why.

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    Read receipt has its own entry in at least one dictionary. Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 13:56
  • RE posting answers as comments: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/117251/… Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 15:24
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    The Wikipedia link for Apple iMessage says says its features include getting delivery and read statuses (read receipts). Since it doesn't feature past tense delivered [statuses], we can safely assume read is a noun (as in the "noun adjunct" usage read / write head for tape decks, computer hard drives, etc.). So it's pronounced REED, not RED. Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 16:17
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    I've been in the computer biz for 50 years, and I've never heard the term "read receipts" (no matter how you pronounce it).
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 17:29
  • @HotLicks Not at all certain it's meant to be named or spelled that way and automatic acknowledgement that a message has been received was once common, though separate recognition of reading now stretches my memory and why either faded away, I have no idea. To me, FumbleFingers analysis is flawed, if only because that detail wouldn't matter… Chapters might be written and wouldn't the point still be whether the message had been read as in 'RED'? Doesn't the fact that the message can't be 'REED' matter most? Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 0:55

2 Answers 2


Yours is a question about a fine point without a consensus, so I can only express my personal opinion in the matter. A read receipt informs the sender that an e-mail has been read, whence the perfect/adjectival form of the verb, pronounced ɹɛd. I think the inventor of the term wanted to emphasize this notion of a completed event.

I prefer the past-participle interpretation because it makes the meaning clearer and less amenable to misunderstanding, cf. read command—a command to read something.

To counter the appeal by FumbleFingers to the analogy with delivery status, I will remark that delivery is not an event, but a process, so that delivery status reflects the current progress in the delivery process, which may be other than undelivered and delivered, such as: sent, relayed, accepted by server, &c.

P.S: Miss not the hyperlinks in my answer!

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    I wonder why this question was migrated hither from english.stackexchange.com. Proficient English speakers seem more interested in this than learners... Commented Sep 22, 2022 at 15:36
  • Don't you think experienced users see the Question as meaningless, while Learners think they ought to care… though in the end, they'll find they needn't have worried? The Question itself might be a perfect illustration, which is to say that the word 'read' is almost never pronounced and when it is, neither speaker nor audience minds… unless they're not familiar with that part of the language. If I expected to here 'reed' but you said 'red' - or vice versa - why would I mind? Only because I thought it ought to matter, because I was unfamiliar with the language. Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 17:12
  • @RobbieGoodwin, Meaningless? No, I don't think so. I am all for accurate English usage and against sloppy grammar, which arises from and leads to sloppy thinking by way of a self-sustaining loop. In my opinion, both learners and proficient users should speak and write knowingly, with a conscious awareness of the reason behind every syntatical choice. Utilitarians who think language good enough as long as it is understood by the person addressed are futhering its degradation. Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 7:32
  • Thanks and I though this was about pronunciation, not accurate language usage or sloppy grammar. At risk of being sent to Chat, what did I miss, please? Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 18:32
  • @RobbieGoodwin May I suggest that you missed the point of the question, which is the grammatical form of the verb to read in read receipt: bare infinitive or past participle. The pronunciation is secondary in being determined by the form. Commented Sep 27, 2022 at 8:50

Although to read is a verb, 'read receipt' is a compound noun. A noun doesn't change tense like a verb. It's a read receipt when you request one in the hope that someone reads (reed) it, and it has the same name when you receive one back to confirm it has been read (red). The tense should have no bearing on its name. Other comparable compound nouns use the infinitive form of verbs, such as cheat sheet, run time, play test etc.

If anyone is an authority on how it should be pronounced, it would be the tech giants that created them. Apple executives have referred to them as 'reed' receipts in keynote addresses (the mention comes at 1:12:20 in the linked video). Microsoft also calls the same thing a 'delivery receipt'. You might well ask why not call it a 'delivered receipt', as it is confirming that something has been delivered, past tense. The same logic applies - it retains the same name at the point of request and after delivery has taken place.

  • Everyone I have worked with in the UK Civil Service in the last 25 years or so has said 'reed receipt' (and 'delivery' receipt'). Commented Sep 28, 2022 at 9:29

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