- a law, ordinance, etc., that has lost its force but has not been formally repealed or abolished.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
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- a law or ordinance that is no longer enforced but has not been formally repealed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
Idioms and Phrases with dead letter
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]