General Question

chefl's avatar

What are the distinct words for the containers of mail and/or non postal items in different dwellings?

Asked by chefl (440points) 1 month ago
The link is showing the kind for houses, it’s not showing the kind in apartment buildings. So what are those called?
That’s also called “mailbox”?

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22 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

For some reason, the links aren’t working for me.

I’m trying to think of another word for mailbox, and I can’t think of one. I think we call the kind that are on the wall near the door of a house a mailbox. We use the same word for the ones on the post that are out near the road, and we use the same word for the ones in large buildings that are on the ground floor all on one wall.

chefl's avatar

I forgot to refer to the kind in the second link it’s the blue one on the left side of the screen, the kind the sender puts the mail in.
@Hawaii_Jake What are you on by the way, re. the link not working for you, smartphone?

Jeruba's avatar

They’re all mailboxes. So are the blue U.S. mail receptacles in public places where you can deposit your outgoing mail. It’s a term that embraces a broad category, like, for example, clock and house.

A mail slot may or may not be associated with a given mailbox; and you can have a mail slot without a mailbox, as for instance, when the mail is dropped through a slot into a chute in a hotel, or enters your home by falling through a slot in your door and landing on the floor.

The interesting part, I think, is that any enclosed receptacle explicitly dedicated to containing mail is called a mailbox; but what is mail? From the public’s point of view, it’s pretty much only mail when it is in, or is about to be in, or has just been in, or is being processed for deposit in, a mailbox. Its status as mail is situational and transitory; it’s the relationship to a mailbox that makes it mail.

I don’t know how those terms are used within the postal service, so I’m speaking only of their common use.

HP's avatar

The grouped boxes in the illustration are usually called cluster boxes. If they are built into the wall of an office or apartment building, the collection is referred to as a bank of boxes. The Post Office (Postal Service) decreed back in the 80s that new housing developments have those cluster boxes as a cost cutting method regarding delivery. It’s a carryover from the requirement in the 3os that apartment buildings have banks of mailboxes in one location rather than door to door delivery. Did you know that it is a violation of Federal law to deposit anything other than mail in a mailbox? And those big blue mailboxes @Jeruba described are “collection boxes” Those big green ones you see in major cities are called “relay boxes”.

chefl's avatar

@HP Ok. But are those terms in common use?
@All, Why is there no mailbox like the kind on the wall of houses in the link page one or 2 (I didn’t go any further) What term do you google to get that google result?

HP's avatar

They are the tems the Post Office uses. Ask your mailman. I was once a mailman.

chefl's avatar

I don’t need to ask my mail person.

JLeslie's avatar

I’ll send the Q to our mailman jelly.

I use the term mailbox for both the boxes in front of houses and boxes in a wall like what is usually seen for apartment buildings or complexes, and also for sending outgoing mail like the photo on the second link where it is a free-standing blue fixture.

I use the term post box for boxes at a post office.

I use mail slot when it is a slot in a door or wall. I grew up with one and my parents still live in that house, and it is still the same. Also, there is usually a mail slot at the apartment complex boxes to put outgoing mail.

chefl's avatar

Using the term “mailbox” for both in front of houses and on the wall of houses is fine. The ones in apartment buildings are technically mail boxes, but the post person doesn’t deliver bag of flyers, newspapers etc.

HP's avatar

Those flyers can be delivered by your letter carrier and are legally part of your mail if they are entrusted to the Postal Service for delivery. Those flyers and advertisers are universally despised by mailmen everywhere, and the political elections notorious for the disgusting amount of wasteful and useless crap a mailman is required to deal with.

Jeruba's avatar

I answered using the language of common use, and pointed that out:

I don’t know how those terms are used within the postal service, so I’m speaking only of their common use.

and then you asked the person who knows the technical terms if he was giving you terms of common use. Pooh, I don’t think you even read the responses, mine or the others’.

HP's avatar


smudges's avatar

@JLeslie Agreed; I think this OP would argue with a fence post!

@chefl The answer is mailboxes, period. Common usage. If you’re going to challenge people’s answers – like @Hawaii_Jake‘s problem with the links – people are less likely to respond to you.

filmfann's avatar

The picture of multiple mailboxes in a pedestal is called a Gangbox in this area.
This may be a local thing, since they are found online under the name Clusterbox.

Jeruba's avatar

@smudges, was your comment to @JLeslie meant for me?

smudges's avatar

@Jeruba Yes, I’m sorry, it was to you. Glad you picked up on that.

AstroChuck's avatar

There are a variety of cluster boxes. There are the traditional drop boxes which open out and the mail is dropped in by the carrier from the top and accessed by the resident from the door in front. Those are always on a wall or imbedded in the wall. Then there are Neighborhood Delivery & Collection Box Units or NDCBU’s (sometimes just called NBU’s) which a lot of apartment and neighborhoods have. They open in the back to load the mail. The first one I see when opening the link is called a CBU (Cluster Box Unit). They have been around twenty or so years. They are similar to NDCBU’s but open from the front. The slots are wider but not as tall as the more squarish receptacles. Both the NDCBU and CBU can stand be mounted on a wall or on a peristáltica. The blue box you link to is simply called a collection can.

AstroChuck's avatar

I meant the NDCBU can only be on a pedestal. The CBU can be on both a pedestal or mounted on a wall.

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