dead letter


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Related to dead letter: Dead letter mail

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 A law, rule, or precedent still formally in effect but no longer valid or enforced.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 (Law) a law or ordinance that is no longer enforced but has not been formally repealed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 a law no longer enforced but not formally repealed.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.
In the question how the trusts under that will are to be administered, the fortune left by the will is squandered away; the legatees under the will are reduced to such a miserable condition that they would be sufficiently punished if they had committed an enormous crime in having money left them, and the will itself is made a dead letter.
Without the mosque, the mere teaching of the brotherhood of man would have remained a dead letter.
The amendment, having been rendered a dead letter by the courts and the Legislature, was dropped from the charter in a 2001 rewrite of the document.
In the words of James Madison, the new Constitution, as it came out of the convention in Independence Hall, "was nothing more than the draft of a plan, nothing but a dead letter, until life and validity were breathed into it by the voice of the people speaking through the several State Conventions.
I've been training for the secret services for many years, since I was a child, in fact, making drops to dead letter boxes in the back garden, writing messages to my sister in lemon juice and concocting ciphers based on the page numbers in my favourite Enid Blyton books.
That it has been fraught with internal contradictions cannot be denied, and the nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan threaten to further relegate it to the status of a dead letter.
New York school officials and Catholic school patrons opposed to Aguilar asked that the 1985 decision be declared a dead letter, citing an obscure provision in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the court majority agreed.
That year, a comprehensive package of spending and contribution limits with public financing was approved by voters, but wound up a dead letter when a competing initiative--bankrolled by legislators--got more votes.