Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.
- a law, practice, etc. no longer enforced or operative but not formally done away with
- a letter that cannot be delivered or returned, as because of incorrect address and lack of return address
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
nounThe American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
- An unclaimed or undelivered letter that after a period of time is destroyed or returned to the sender by the postal service.
- A law, directive, or factor still formally in effect but no longer valid or enforced.
dead letter - Business Definition
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Business Terms Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
An undeliverable letter that cannot be returned to the sender.
dead letter - Phrases/Idioms
An unclaimed or undelivered letter that is eventually destroyed or returned to the sender. For example, She moved without leaving a forwarding address, so her mail ended up in the dead letter office. [c. 1700]
A statute or directive that is still valid but in practice is not enforced. For example, The blue laws here are a dead letter; all the stores open on Sundays and holidays. [Second half of 1600s]