[ let-er ]
/ ˈlɛt ər /


verb (used with object)

to mark or write with letters; inscribe.

verb (used without object)

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 letter

1175–1225; Middle English, variant of lettre < Old French < Latin littera alphabetic character, in plural, epistle, literature

Related forms

let·ter·er, nounlet·ter·less, adjective

Can be confused

letter lighter liter litter

Definition for letters (2 of 2)


[ let-er ]
/ ˈlɛt ər /

noun Chiefly British.

a person who lets, especially one who rents out property.

Origin of letter

1375–1425; late Middle English letere; see let1, -er1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for letters

British Dictionary definitions for letters (1 of 2)


/ (ˈlɛtəz) /

noun (functioning as plural or singular)

literary knowledge, ability, or learninga man of letters
literary culture in general
an official title, degree, etc, indicated by an abbreviationletters after one's name

British Dictionary definitions for letters (2 of 2)


/ (ˈlɛtə) /



to write or mark letters on (a sign, etc), esp by hand
(tr) to set down or print using letters
See also letters

Derived Forms

letterer, noun

Word Origin for letter

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


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.