Are apostrophes valid in an email address?

Randal L. Schwartz merlyn at
Wed Feb 15 15:48:03 GMT 2006

>>>>> "IvorW" == IvorW  <combobulus at> writes:

IvorW> I've had a mailman subscription request from an email address that
IvorW> looks like this:

IvorW> paddy.o'hagan at (this is not the real address; the domain has
IvorW> been changed to protect the innocent from spam)

As others have said, it's legal.  In fact, if you send me email
directly, you get an autoreply from:

  The Answering Machine <merlyn.'s-answering.machine at>

This is actually a special form of merlyn.ANYTHING at, which used
the sendmail recipe that I helped invent (and is now part of the standard
sendmail distro) to deliver FOO.ANYTHING to FOO.  Nowadays, I could lose the
first dot and it'd still work.

The autoreply comes from someone other than me so that I don't get into a
reply-bot meltdown from poorly written tools on their end.  It's also marked
"precedence: junk".  If they autoreply to mail so marked (which is wrong,
but...), then I round-can their autoreply to my autoreply without further

Randal L. Schwartz - Stonehenge Consulting Services, Inc. - +1 503 777 0095
<merlyn at> <URL:>
Perl/Unix/security consulting, Technical writing, Comedy, etc. etc.
See for onsite and open-enrollment Perl training!

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