- a written or printed communication addressed to a person or organization and usually transmitted by mail.
- a symbol or character that is conventionally used in writing and printing to represent a speech sound and that is part of an alphabet.
- a piece of printing type bearing such a symbol or character.
- a particular style of type.
- such types collectively.
- Often letters. a formal document granting a right or privilege.
- actual terms or wording; literal meaning, as distinct from implied meaning or intent (opposed to spirit): the letter of the law.
- letters, (used with a singular or plural verb)
- literature in general.
- the profession of literature.
- learning; knowledge, especially of literature.
- an emblem consisting of the initial or monogram of a school, awarded to a student for extracurricular activity, especially in athletics.
- to mark or write with letters; inscribe.
- to earn a letter in an interscholastic or intercollegiate activity, especially a sport: He lettered in track at Harvard.
- to the letter, to the last particular; precisely: His orders were carried out to the letter.
Origin of letter1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for letter on Thesaurus.com
- a person who lets, especially one who rents out property.
Origin of letter2
Examples from the Web for letter
Your letter highlights so many of the harsh realities trans people face, specifically in regard to how society rejects us.Dear Leelah, We Will Fight On For You: A Letter to a Dead Trans Teen
January 1, 2015
Copies of the letter were sent to senior members of the church hierarchy and to the Soviet government.Remembering the Russian Priest Who Fought the Orthodox Church
December 28, 2014
So, feeling “a little loopy” from beers, he sat down and wrote a letter to Santa Claus.Kerry Bentivolio: The Congressman Who Believes in Santa Claus
December 24, 2014
I have never gotten one letter in my office about one of those.A Field General in the War on Christmas
December 24, 2014
And from there, the letter asked for money for a legal defense fund.The Monsters Who Screamed for Dead Cops
December 23, 2014
Was his father still alive, or was this letter a communication from the dead?
I have seen the letter; it is in Captain Rushton's handwriting.
He handed the letter to Robert, who surveyed it with curiosity.
Did you notice you could read every letter in the label on that ham?The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
The feelings with which Robert read and his mother listened to this letter, were varied.
- any of a set of conventional symbols used in writing or printing a language, each symbol being associated with a group of phonetic values in the language; character of the alphabet
- a written or printed communication addressed to a person, company, etc, usually sent by post in an envelopeRelated adjective: epistolary
- the letter the strict legalistic or pedantic interpretation of the meaning of an agreement, document, etc; exact wording as distinct from actual intention (esp in the phrase the letter of the law)Compare spirit 1 (def. 10)
- printing archaic a style of typefacea fancy letter
- to the letter
- following the literal interpretation or wording exactly
- attending to every detail
- to write or mark letters on (a sign, etc), esp by hand
- (tr) to set down or print using letters
Word Origin and History for letter
c.1200, "graphic symbol, alphabetic sign, written character," from Old French letre (10c., Modern French lettre) "character, letter; missive, note," in plural, "literature, writing, learning," from Latin littera (also litera) "letter of the alphabet," of uncertain origin, perhaps via Etruscan from Greek diphthera "tablet," with change of d- to l- as in lachrymose. In this sense it replaced Old English bocstæf, literally "book staff" (cf. German Buchstabe "letter, character," from Old High German buohstab, from Proto-Germanic *bok-staba-m).
Latin littera also meant "a writing, document, record," and in plural litteræ "a letter, epistle," a sense first attested in English early 13c., replacing Old English ærendgewrit, literally "errand-writing." The Latin plural also meant "literature, books," and figuratively "learning, liberal education, schooling" (see letters). School letter in sports, attested by 1908, were said to have been first awarded by University of Chicago football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. Expression to the letter "precisely" is from 1520s (earlier as after the letter). Letter-perfect is from 1845, originally in theater jargon, in reference to an actor knowing the lines exactly. Letter-press, in reference to matter printed from relief surfaces, is from 1840.
"one who lets" in any sense, c.1400, agent noun from let (v.).
Idioms and Phrases with letter
In addition to the idiom beginning with letter
- letter of the law
- bread and butter letter
- crank call (letter)
- dead letter
- four-letter word
- poison-pen letter
- red-letter day
- to the letter