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Definition: chat


A text communication via keyboard in real time between two or more users on a local network (LAN) or over the Internet. Although the original use of the term was only for text, "chat" became popular for every two-way communication. Audio and voice evolved into "audio chat" and "voice chat." Videoconferencing and video calling became "video chat."

Live Chat for Support
Live text chat is a common website support system, allowing someone to be assisted by a company representative, who typically handles more than one site visitor at a time. Live chat is also called "live help" and "live support."

Chat, Texting and Instant Messaging
All three terms are used synonymously. Texting (SMS) is built into every cellphone and usage only requires the recipient's phone number. All other chat services use a computer or phone app. Some require establishing an account and creating a contact list (see text messaging and instant messaging).

Chatting Was Always Verbal
Before text chat became popular, "chatting on any phone" meant talking. See chat room, video chat and IRC.




A Website Live Chat
A live chat on a website is very helpful for potential customers such as this example on Cisco.com. Although the young woman's headset might imply a voice call, this "Chat Live" session is text only.