A message is a discrete unit of communication intended by the source for consumption by some recipient or group of recipients. A message may be delivered by various means, including courier, telegraphy, carrier pigeon and electronic bus.
A message can be the content of a broadcast. An interactive exchange of messages forms a conversation.
One example of a message is a communiqué (pronounced), which is a brief report or statement released by a public agency.
Role in human communication
In communication between humans, messages can be verbal or nonverbal:
- A verbal message is an exchange of information using words. Examples include face-to-face communication, telephone calls, voicemails, etc.
- A nonverbal message is communicated through actions or behaviors rather than words, e.g. by the use of body language.
In computer science
There are two main senses of the word "message" in computing: messages between the human users of computer systems that are delivered by those computer systems, and messages passed between programs or between components of a single program, for their own purposes.
- Instant messaging and e-mail are examples of computer software designed for delivering human-readable messages in formatted or unformatted text, from one person to another.
- Message passing is a form of communication used in concurrent and parallel computing, object-oriented programming, and interprocess communication, where communication is made by sending messages to recipients. In a related use of this sense of a message, in object-oriented programming languages such as Smalltalk or Java, a message is sent to an object, specifying a request for action.