a message or communication sent by telegraph; a telegraphic dispatch.

verb (used with or without object), tel·e·grammed, tel·e·gram·ming.

to telegraph.

Origin of telegram

An Americanism dating back to 1850–55; tele-1 + -gram1
Related formstel·e·gram·mic, tel·e·gram·ma·tic [tel-i-gruh-mat-ik] /ˌtɛl ɪ grəˈmæt ɪk/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for telegram

Contemporary Examples of telegram

Historical Examples of telegram

  • That telegram from Coplen is concernin' of a lady—a party that was with him when he died.

    The Spenders

    Harry Leon Wilson

  • And what I overheard in the armoury--about a telegram--telling me--putting me out of my misery?


    William J. Locke

  • Your sudden departure needs no other explanation to the household than this telegram.


    William J. Locke

  • She had thought of sending a telegram, but saw that that might do mischief.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • But when I reached the office, there lay on my desk a telegram.

British Dictionary definitions for telegram



a communication transmitted by telegraphSee also cable (def. 5), Telemessage
Derived Formstelegrammatic (ˌtɛlɪɡrəˈmætɪk) or telegrammic, adjective
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

Word Origin and History for telegram

"telegraphic dispatch," 1852, coined by E.P. Smith of Rochester, N.Y., from tele-, as in telegraph + -gram, and introduced in the Albany "Evening Journal" of April 6, 1852. Purists pointed out that this is an erroneous formation, and the correct word would be telegrapheme (which is close to the Modern Greek word).

May I suggest to such as are not contented with 'Telegraphic Dispatch' the rightly constructed word 'telegrapheme'? I do not want it, but ... I protest against such a barbarism as 'telegram.' [Richard Shilleto, Cambridge Greek scholar, in the London "Times," Oct. 15, 1857]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper