Log in or Login: What’s the Difference?

The digital revolution has expanded the number of words we need to describe the events and actions of our daily lives. However, as with all growth, some new elements can be confusing. Due to the rapid adoption of password protection as a security feature for hardware and digital services, new terms for these credentials and their use have also come into being.

As you can see from the following chart, log in has seen sporadic use throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. English users have only been shortening the phrase to a single word since roughly the 1980s—coinciding with the widespread adoption of home computing.

login versus log in

This chart is by no means exact or scientific, since it only counts words from books written in English since 1800. It’s still useful, however, for identifying a long term trend.

Many people aren’t sure whether login or log in is correct when describing these security credentials. Should this term be one word, or two? Since we use it as a noun, a verb, and sometimes as an adjective, the answer depends on context.

What is the Difference Between Log in and Login?

Is login one word? In this article, I will compare log in vs. login, and I will use each in a sentence to illustrate how they are best used. Plus, at the end, I will show you a memory trick to help remember when each term is appropriate.

When to Use Log in

define login definitionWhat does log in mean? If you’re using this term as a verb, separate it into two words. A tech support agent might tell a confused coworker,

  • Log in to the computer and adjust the network settings.

-or-

  • Log in with your new username and password.

As a verb, log in is broken into two words.

  • If you’ve already used an iPhone and a Google account to log in to “Pokémon Go,” log out of the app and download the update. Then, log back in with your Google account to see the scaled-back permissions. –The Wall Street Journal

When to Use Login

login meaningWhat does login mean? When using this term as a noun, shorten it to a single word. Here are some examples:

  • Your login is your username and password.
  • Do not trust anyone else with your login.

You can also use login as an adjective. Adjectives describe nouns. Here are some sentences where login is used as an adjective:

  • Your login information is your username and password.
  • You have used 3 of your 5 login attempts.
  • And I still haven’t been able to delete my LinkedIn account, since I’ve long forgotten my login credentials and apparently need to send the company a copy of my driver’s license to prove who I am in order to finally deactivate it. –USA Today

As a noun, login is one single word.

Trick to Remember the Difference

If you can’t remember whether log in or login is correct, there is an easy way to remind yourself.

Noun is a single word that ends with an N. So is login. If you keep this fact in mind, it should be easy to remember to use login as a noun.

Summary: Login vs. Log in

Is it login or log in? Log in and login have only seen heavy use since personal computers became ubiquitous in the 1980s, but they are now so common that misusing them in your writing can cost you credibility.

Log in (two words) should only be used as a verb.

Login (one word) can be a noun or an adjective.

Since noun and login are both single words than end in with an N, remembering whether to use login or log in should not be difficult. If you need a refresher on the recent history of these terms or their appropriate usage cases, you can always refer back to this article.