Letters patent
Letter Let"ter, n. [OE. lettre, F. lettre, OF. letre, fr. L. littera, litera, a letter; pl., an epistle, a writing, literature, fr. linere, litum, to besmear, to spread or rub over; because one of the earliest modes of writing was by graving the characters upon tablets smeared over or covered with wax. --Pliny, xiii. 11. See {Liniment}, and cf. {Literal}.] 1. A mark or character used as the representative of a sound, or of an articulation of the human organs of speech; a first element of written language. [1913 Webster]

And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew. --Luke xxiii. 38. [1913 Webster]

2. A written or printed communication; a message expressed in intelligible characters on something adapted to conveyance, as paper, parchment, etc.; an epistle. [1913 Webster]

The style of letters ought to be free, easy, and natural. --Walsh. [1913 Webster]

3. A writing; an inscription. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]

None could expound what this letter meant. --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]

4. Verbal expression; literal statement or meaning; exact signification or requirement. [1913 Webster]

We must observe the letter of the law, without doing violence to the reason of the law and the intention of the lawgiver. --Jer. Taylor. [1913 Webster]

I broke the letter of it to keep the sense. --Tennyson. [1913 Webster]

5. (Print.) A single type; type, collectively; a style of type. [1913 Webster]

Under these buildings . . . was the king's printing house, and that famous letter so much esteemed. --Evelyn. [1913 Webster]

6. pl. Learning; erudition; as, a man of letters. [1913 Webster]

7. pl. A letter; an epistle. [Obs.] --Chaucer. [1913 Webster]

8. (Teleg.) A telegram longer than an ordinary message sent at rates lower than the standard message rate in consideration of its being sent and delivered subject to priority in service of regular messages. Such telegrams are called by the Western Union Company {day letters}, or {night letters} according to the time of sending, and by The Postal Telegraph Company {day lettergrams}, or {night lettergrams}. [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

{Dead letter}, {Drop letter}, etc. See under {Dead}, {Drop}, etc.

{Letter book}, a book in which copies of letters are kept.

{Letter box}, a box for the reception of letters to be mailed or delivered.

{Letter carrier}, a person who carries letters; a postman; specif., an officer of the post office who carries letters to the persons to whom they are addressed, and collects letters to be mailed.

{Letter cutter}, one who engraves letters or letter punches.

{Letter lock}, a lock that can not be opened when fastened, unless certain movable lettered rings or disks forming a part of it are in such a position (indicated by a particular combination of the letters) as to permit the bolt to be withdrawn. [1913 Webster]

A strange lock that opens with AMEN. --Beau. & Fl.

{Letter paper}, paper for writing letters on; especially, a size of paper intermediate between note paper and foolscap. See {Paper}.

{Letter punch}, a steel punch with a letter engraved on the end, used in making the matrices for type.

{Letters of administration} (Law), the instrument by which an administrator or administratrix is authorized to administer the goods and estate of a deceased person.

{Letter of attorney}, {Letter of credit}, etc. See under {Attorney}, {Credit}, etc.

{Letter of license}, a paper by which creditors extend a debtor's time for paying his debts.

{Letters close} or {Letters clause} (Eng. Law.), letters or writs directed to particular persons for particular purposes, and hence closed or sealed on the outside; -- distinguished from {letters patent}. --Burrill.

{Letters of orders} (Eccl.), a document duly signed and sealed, by which a bishop makes it known that he has regularly ordained a certain person as priest, deacon, etc.

{Letters patent}, {Letters overt}, or {Letters open} (Eng. Law), a writing executed and sealed, by which power and authority are granted to a person to do some act, or enjoy some right; as, letters patent under the seal of England. The common commercial {patent} is a derivative form of such a right.

{Letter-sheet envelope}, a stamped sheet of letter paper issued by the government, prepared to be folded and sealed for transmission by mail without an envelope.

{Letters testamentary} (Law), an instrument granted by the proper officer to an executor after probate of a will, authorizing him to act as executor.

{Letter writer}. (a) One who writes letters. (b) A machine for copying letters. (c) A book giving directions and forms for the writing of letters. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Letters patent — are a type of legal instrument in the form of an open letter issued by a monarch or government, granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or to some entity such as a corporation. The opposite of letters patent (Lat.… …   Wikipedia

  • Letters Patent — von Queen Victoria Letters Patent (lat.: litterae patentes)[1] (deutsch: offener Brief) bezeichnet im englischen Sprachraum ein Dokument, über welches ein Herrscher oder eine entsprechend autorisierte Institution …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • letters patent — see letter 2 Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. letters patent …   Law dictionary

  • letters patent — UK US noun [plural] ► LAW a formal document from a king, queen, or government that gives someone a particular right: »The coat of arms was granted by letters patent of Edward IV …   Financial and business terms

  • letters patent — [let′ərz pat′ nt] n. a document granting a patent: see PATENT …   English World dictionary

  • letters patent — Open letters, as distinguished from letters close. An instrument proceeding from the government, and conveying a right, authority, or grant to an individual, as a patent for a tract of land, or for the exclusive right to make and sell a new… …   Black's law dictionary

  • Letters Patent — A legal instrument that grants the exclusive rights of an invention to an individual or a corporation. A letters patent is granted by the government to an individual, giving him or her the rights to authorship or to a patent for a new invention… …   Investment dictionary

  • Letters Patent — Document announcing an honor or power for an individual, granted by an official or nobleman. For example, arms might be granted by letters patent, or they might be granted lordship over a feudal estate. ♦ Sealed and open letters, often enrolled… …   Medieval glossary

  • letters patent — patent authorization, certificate of patent for an invention …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Letters Patent — These were royal letters, sent open with a seal and pendant attached. Their contents were not considered to be secret. Such letters authorised an action or instructed e.g. a sheriff to act. They date from 1201. [patent < Lat. pateo = open] …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

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