There seem to be two prevalent interpretations of the word corresponding author:
The corresponding author is the one who corresponds the (unpublished) paper to the journal, i.e., who performs the technical process of submitting the paper, is available for requests on the review and publishing processes, and so on.
The corresponding author is the one who corresponds on the (published) paper with anybody who likes to do so, e.g., because they found an error or like some clarification.
What I found out so far
Until today, I was only aware of the first interpretation, which was confirmed by my experience: For all papers I submitted, I automatically became the corresponding author and cannot remember that I could choose one of my co-authors for this role. Some of these journals do not even indicate a corresponding author to the reader. Also, there already is a way to indicate that an author is available for questions on the paper (interpretation 2): stating the e-mail address.
On the other hand, other journals do indicate corresponding authorship, which makes little sense for interpretation 1. Also, the value put into this role by some funding agencies for its implied meaning makes more sense for interpretation 2 (not that I completely agree with it).
Looking for some guidelines from publishers covering multiple fields, I found the following instructions on denoting the corresponding author from Elsevier¹, which kind-of covers both interpretations:
Clearly indicate who will handle correspondence at all stages of refereeing and publication, also post-publication.
While there are other questions on this site touching this issue, they focus on consequences of the interpretation, such as how to assign corresponding authorship, the implications of corresponding authorship, or whom to address with a request.
What is the explicit meaning of the word corresponding author? Interpretation 1 or 2 as listed above, both, something else, or is this an extreme example of academia’s inhomogeneity and the answer depends on the field or publisher? Please answer only if you have more to offer than personal experience and individual journal guidelines. In particular, please address the possibility of a varying meaning.
¹ which is separate for each journal, but seems to be identical in content for many journals