dead letter

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dead letter

n.
1. An unclaimed or undelivered letter that after a period of time is destroyed or returned to the sender by the postal service.
2. A law, rule, or precedent still formally in effect but no longer valid or enforced.

dead letter

n
1. (Communications & Information) a letter that cannot be delivered or returned because it lacks adequate directions
2. (Law) a law or ordinance that is no longer enforced but has not been formally repealed
3. informal anything considered no longer worthy of consideration

dead′ let′ter


n.
1. a letter that is not deliverable or returnable by the post office.
2. a law no longer enforced but not formally repealed.
[1570–80]
dead′-let′ter, adj.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.dead letter - the state of something that has outlived its relevance
state - the way something is with respect to its main attributes; "the current state of knowledge"; "his state of health"; "in a weak financial state"
2.dead letter - mail that can neither be delivered nor returned
letter, missive - a written message addressed to a person or organization; "mailed an indignant letter to the editor"
References in classic literature ?
Without the SUBSTANCE of this power, the whole Constitution would be a dead letter.
The Northwest Company were now in complete occupation of the Columbia River, and its chief tributary streams, holding the posts which he had established, and carrying on a trade throughout the neighboring region, in defiance of the prohibitory law of Congress, which, in effect, was a dead letter beyond the mountains.
Laws are a dead letter without courts to expound and define their true meaning and operation.
It has had a name to live in some dogmatic theology, but each man's innocence and his real liking of his neighbor have kept it a dead letter.