- pertaining to or obtained by mail order: a dozen mail-order rosebushes.
- to order (merchandise) by mail: to mail-order fruitcakes for Christmas.
Origin of mail-order
First recorded in 1865–70
- an order for goods received or shipped through the mail.
- the business of selling merchandise through the mail.
Origin of mail order
An Americanism dating back to 1865–70
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for mail-order
Meet the psychics preying on the elderly with a mail-order moneymaking gig that netted them millions a year.The Multimillion ‘Clairvoyance by Mail’ Scam
November 21, 2014
The mail-order business took off, so he closed the magazine and started a record shop.Can Richard Branson Bounce Back From His Space Disaster?
November 3, 2014
Jason is a particular breed himself, a mail-order salesman of animals.The Weird Underground World of Urban Animal Husbandry
May 19, 2014
Johnson has had his scandals, but he is not the kind of man to go out with a Russian mail-order bride.Boris Johnson Is Right: Some Women Go to College to Find a Husband
Janine di Giovanni
July 9, 2013
Next to his desk, which does not have computer on it, swims a frog he grew from a mail-order tadpole.Inside an Oklahoma Abortion Clinic
January 22, 2013
I've got to make my own clothes, or take a long chance on a mail-order house.Desert Conquest</p>
A. M. Chisholm
To-day the mail-order lists are crammed with commodities that are different.Post-Impressions
A stormy day or a series of them always helps the mail-order business.Meteorology
Charles Fitzhugh Talman
Where is the new strike leader—the mail-order strike leader?Windy McPherson's Son
Most of this is spent by women, who are largely caught by the mail-order 175 trade.Carmen Ariza
Charles Francis Stocking
- an order for merchandise sent by post
- a system of buying and selling merchandise through the post
- (as modifier)a mail-order firm
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 mail-order
The origin, foundation and principle of mail order trading is universally recognized as wrong. It was conceived in iniquity and brought forth in despair as the world's greatest destructive medium. Mail Order Trading was born in the brain of knaves and thieves who fired their building for insurance profits, then sold the salvaged and damaged stock to the unsuspecting sons of man in distant territory. [Thomas J. Sullivan, "Merchants and Manufacturers on Trial," Chicago, 1914]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper