dead letter


noun

a law, ordinance, etc., that has lost its force but has not been formally repealed or abolished.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.

QUIZZES

ELEMENTARY SCHOOL PUNCTUATION QUIZ

Punctuation marks help make writing easy to read and understand. Some of the most important ones are the period (.), comma (,), question mark (?), and exclamation point (!). How well do you know how to use them? Find out in this quiz!
Question 1 of 10
Which punctuation mark is best for this sentence? "Can I watch a movie __"

Origin of dead letter

First recorded in 1570–80

OTHER WORDS FROM dead letter

dead-let·ter, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for dead-letter office

British Dictionary definitions for dead-letter office

dead letter

noun

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a law or ordinance that is no longer enforced but has not been formally repealed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
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

Idioms and Phrases with dead-letter office

dead letter

1

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]

2

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]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.