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I'm going to move this thread to our General Computing forum. Mime types are used in many technologies besides JSP.
The mime type is a short string (usually passed in a header) that lets a an application know what type of content it is receiving.
For instance, when a browser makes a request to a server, it expects the response to be of type 'text/html'. Often however, the browser will send something else, like an image, a spread sheet, or a PDF document. In these cases, the application sending the content can let the receiving application know what it is with content-type or mime type header.
Since you originally asked this question in the JSP forum, I'll mention that the HttpServletResponse object has a setContentType method that can be used to set this header.