Short for Domain Name System (or Service), an Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, they're easier to remember. The Internet however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, therefore, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address. For example, the domain name www.microsoft.com would be translated to 126.96.36.199. You can see that they're the same by substituting the number for the name in the URL http://www.microsoft.com and entering it in a Web browser.
The DNS system is, in fact, its own network. If one DNS server doesn't know how to translate a particular domain name, it asks another one, and so on, until the correct IP address is returned.