[ let-er ]
See synonyms for: letterletteredletteringletters on Thesaurus.com

  1. a written or printed communication addressed to a person or organization and usually transmitted by mail.

  2. a symbol or character that is conventionally used in writing and printing to represent a speech sound and that is part of an alphabet.

  1. a piece of printing type bearing such a symbol or character.

  2. a particular style of type.

  3. such types collectively.

  4. Often letters . a formal document granting a right or privilege.

  5. actual terms or wording; literal meaning, as distinct from implied meaning or intent (opposed to spirit): the letter of the law.

  6. letters, (used with a singular or plural verb)

    • literature in general.

    • the profession of literature.

    • learning; knowledge, especially of literature.

  7. an emblem consisting of the initial or monogram of a school, awarded to a student for extracurricular activity, especially in athletics.

verb (used with object)
  1. to mark or write with letters; inscribe: I picked up the crossword and lettered in P-E-A-R-L for the final clue.

verb (used without object)
  1. to earn a letter in an interscholastic or intercollegiate activity, especially a sport: He lettered in track at Harvard.

Idioms about letter

  1. to the letter, to the last particular; precisely: His orders were carried out to the letter.

Origin of letter

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English, variant of lettre, from Old French, from Latin littera “alphabetic character”; in plural, “epistle, literature”

synonym study For letter

8. See literature.

Other words from letter

  • let·ter·er, noun
  • let·ter·less, adjective

Words that may be confused with letter

Words Nearby letter

Other definitions for letter (2 of 2)

[ let-er ]

nounChiefly British.
  1. a person who lets, especially one who rents out property.

Origin of letter

First recorded in 1550–60; let1 + -er1

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use letter in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for letter


/ (ˈlɛtə) /

  1. 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

  2. a written or printed communication addressed to a person, company, etc, usually sent by post in an envelope: Related adjective: epistolary

  1. 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)

  2. printing archaic a style of typeface: a fancy letter

  3. to the letter

    • following the literal interpretation or wording exactly

    • attending to every detail

  1. to write or mark letters on (a sign, etc), esp by hand

  2. (tr) to set down or print using letters

Origin of letter

C13: from Old French lettre, from Latin littera letter of the alphabet

Derived forms of letter

  • letterer, noun

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with letter


In addition to the idiom beginning with letter

  • letter of the law

also see:

  • bread and butter letter
  • crank call (letter)
  • dead letter
  • four-letter word
  • poison-pen letter
  • red-letter day
  • to the letter

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