- a law, ordinance, etc., that has lost its force but has not been formally repealed or abolished.
- a letter that cannot reach the addressee or be returned to the sender, usually because of incorrect address, and that is sent to and handled in a special division or department (dead-letter office) of a general post office.
Origin of dead letter
Examples from the Web for dead letter
Historical Examples of dead letter
After a long time it came back from the German dead-letter office.Lost
System, punctuality, industry, belong to the Dead-letter Office.
If people do not steal our horses the reward is a dead-letter.Nevermore
I got it back in the face by way of the dead-letter office where they know me.Cordwood
Edgar Wilson (Bill) Nye
But the most exciting day of all was when they visited the Dead-letter Office.
- a letter that cannot be delivered or returned because it lacks adequate directions
- a law or ordinance that is no longer enforced but has not been formally repealed
- informal anything considered no longer worthy of consideration
An unclaimed or undelivered letter that is eventually destroyed or returned to the sender. For example, She moved without leaving a forwarding address, so her mail ended up in the dead letter office. [c. 1700]
A statute or directive that is still valid but in practice is not enforced. For example, The blue laws here are a dead letter; all the stores open on Sundays and holidays. [Second half of 1600s]