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According to dictionary.cambridge.org/forward, the verb forward means

to send a letter, etc., especially from someone's old address to their new address, or to send a letter, email, etc. that you have received to someone else

And according to dictionary.cambridge.org/redirect, the verb redirect means

to change the direction of something, especially to send a letter to a new address

What's the difference? When to use forward and when redirect?

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In the UK these terms could be used interchangeably, but often I would interpret the meanings like this:

Forward:
Person A sends something to person B, who receives it, but it needs to go to person C, so person B forwards it to person C.

If I move into a house, and a letter comes addressed to a previous occupant, and I know that person's new address (their 'forwarding address'), I can forward that letter to them, by taking a pen, crossing out the address on the front, writing the new address next to it, and posting it (without paying for a new stamp). Also, for example, if I accidentally damage someone's property, I might say 'Get it repaired and forward the bill to me'. Perhaps I am involved in some legal matter, and I get a document which I can't deal with, so I forward it to my lawyer.

Redirect:
Person A sends something to person B, but person B has changed address. The mail service can change the address on the item and deliver it there.

If I leave an address, I can pay a fee to Royal Mail for 'redirection service' for a period, usually six months or a year. Using a form, I tell them the old and new addresses, pay the fee, and staff at the area delivery office serving the old address will (hopefully) grab any letters arriving with my name at the old address, and change the delivery address (using labels they printed) and put them back in the postal system (redirect them). These never get to the old address.

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You can use either; they are just different ways of saying the same thing. Forward has the sense 'send (something you have received) onwards', and redirect that of 'write a different address on'.

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  • Thanks! My little off-topic: you wrote "either" in the meaning of "any of two". Can the word "either" be also using if there are more than two items?
    – elluser
    Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 16:51
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    Some dictionaries say 'a choice between two', some say 'two or more'. It's usually either of two, any of several. Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 20:16

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