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  1. letters, packages, etc., that are sent or delivered by means of the postal system: Storms delayed delivery of the mail.
  2. a single collection of such letters, packages, etc., as sent or delivered: to open one's mail; to find a bill in the mail; The mail for England was put on the noon plane.
  3. Also mails. the system, usually operated or supervised by the national government, for sending or delivering letters, packages, etc.; postal system: to buy clothes by mail.
  4. a train, boat, etc., as a carrier of postal matter.
  5. electronic mail; email.
  1. of or relating to mail.
verb (used with object)
  1. to send by mail; place in a post office or mailbox for transmission.
  2. to transmit by email.
  1. copy the mail, Citizens Band Radio Slang. to monitor or listen to a CB transmission.

Origin of mail1

1175–1225; Middle English male (noun) < Old French malle < Germanic; compare Old High German mal(a)ha satchel, bag
Can be confusedmail male
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for copy the mail


  1. Also called (esp Brit): post letters, packages, etc, that are transported and delivered by the post office
  2. the postal system
  3. a single collection or delivery of mail
  4. a train, ship, or aircraft that carries mail
  5. short for electronic mail
  6. (modifier) of, involving, or used to convey maila mail train
verb (tr)
  1. mainly US and Canadian to send by mailUsual Brit word: post
  2. to contact (a person) by electronic mail
  3. to send (a message, document, etc) by electronic mail
Derived Formsmailable, adjectivemailability, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Old French male bag, probably from Old High German malha wallet


  1. a type of flexible armour consisting of riveted metal rings or links
  2. the hard protective shell of such animals as the turtle and lobster
  1. (tr) to clothe or arm with mail
Derived Formsmail-less, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French maille mesh, from Latin macula spot


  1. archaic, mainly Scot a monetary payment, esp of rent or taxes

Word Origin

Old English māl terms, from Old Norse māl agreement


  1. Australian informal a rumour or report, esp a racing tip
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for copy the mail



"post, letters," c.1200, "a traveling bag," from Old French male "wallet, bag, bundle," from Frankish *malha or some other Germanic source, from Proto-Germanic *malho- (cf. Old High German malaha "wallet, bag," Middle Dutch male "bag"), from PIE *molko- "skin, bag." Sense extension to "letters and parcels" (18c.) is via "bag full of letter" (1650s) or "person or vehicle who carries postal matter" (1650s). In 19c. England, mail was letters going abroad, while home dispatches were post. Sense of "personal batch of letters" is from 1844, originally American English.



"metal ring armor," c.1300, from Old French maille "link of mail, mesh of net," from Latin macula "mesh in a net," originally "spot, blemish," on notion that the gaps in a net or mesh looked like spots.



"send by post," 1828, American English, from mail (n.1). Related: Mailed; mailing; mailable. Mailing list attested from 1876.



"rent, payment," from Old English mal (see blackmail (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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