dead letter
noun Date: 1627 1. something that has lost its force or authority without being formally abolished 2. a letter that is undeliverable and unreturnable by the post office

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • dead letter — {n. phr.} An undeliverable letter that ends up in a special office holding such letters. * /There is a dead letter office in most major cities./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • dead letter — {n. phr.} An undeliverable letter that ends up in a special office holding such letters. * /There is a dead letter office in most major cities./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • Dead letter — 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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • dead letter — in general use, is properly a rule or regulation that is no longer observed; for example, capital punishment is a dead letter when it remains on the statute book although it is not used. The term should not be applied to aspects of life that have …   Modern English usage

  • dead letter — dead letter, adj. 1. a law, ordinance, etc., that has lost its force but has not been formally repealed or abolished. 2. a letter that cannot reach the addressee or be returned to the sender, usually because of incorrect address, and that is sent …   Universalium

  • dead letter — dead letters N COUNT If you say that a law or agreement is a dead letter, you mean that it still exists but people ignore it. No one does anything about it and the law becomes a dead letter …   English dictionary

  • dead letter — n 1.) a law, idea etc that still exists but that people no longer obey 2.) a letter that cannot be delivered or returned …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • dead letter — noun count 1. ) a letter that can neither be delivered nor returned to anyone, because the addresses are missing or not complete 2. ) a law, agreement, or tradition that people no longer pay any attention to …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • dead letter — ► NOUN 1) a law or treaty which has not been repealed but is defunct in practice. 2) a letter that has not been delivered or claimed …   English terms dictionary

  • dead letter — n. 1. a law, practice, etc. no longer enforced or operative but not formally done away with 2. a letter that cannot be delivered or returned, as because of incorrect address and lack of return address …   English World dictionary

  • Dead letter — (engl., spr. dedd, »toter Brief«), ein wegen ungenügender Adresse oder aus andern Gründen unbestellbarer Brief, »Rückbrief« …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

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