Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: lettre, from Latin littera


1 noun
let‧ter1 S1 W1 [countable]
1 a written or printed message that is usually put in an envelope and sent by mail
letter from/to
I got a long letter from Melanie today.
Bart's writing a letter to his parents.
post a letter British English /mail a letter American English
Could you post this letter for me?
a letter of thanks/introduction/complaint etc
Julie received a letter of apology from the hospital.
a business letter
chain letter, covering letter, letter of credit, open letter

; ➔ thank-you letter

at thank-you (2)
2SLA a sign in writing or printing that represents a speech sound:
There are 26 letters in the English alphabet.
Fill in the form in capital letters (=written in their large form).
block letters

to the letter

paying exact attention to the details of something:
I followed the instructions to the letter, but it still wouldn't work.

the letter of the law

the exact words of a law or agreement rather than the intended or general meaning:
employees who stick to the letter of the law in their contracts

➔ the spirit of the law

at spirit1 (11)
5 American EnglishSEDS a large cloth letter that you sew onto a jacket, given as a reward for playing in a school or college sports team:
Mark got a letter in soccer.

English/American/German etc letters

[plural] formalAL the study of the literature of a particular country or language:
a major figure in English letters
dead letter, man of lettersWORD FOCUS: mail WORD FOCUS: mail
things that people send: letter, postcard, package also parcel British English, junk mail

ways of sending mail: first class/second class British English, airmail, surface mail, special delivery

the person who delivers your mail: postman/postwoman British English, mailman American English, letter carrier American English

the place where you buy stamps, send letters and packages etc: post office

the place where you put letters and packages: postbox British English/mailbox American English

the place where you receive letters and packages: letterbox British English/mailbox American English

See also

Dictionary results for "letter"
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