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 A law, rule, or precedent still formally in effect but no longer valid or enforced.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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 (Law) a law or ordinance that is no longer enforced but has not been formally repealed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
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

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 a law no longer enforced but not formally repealed.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.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in classic literature ?
Without the SUBSTANCE of this power, the whole Constitution would be a dead letter. Those who object to the article, therefore, as a part of the Constitution, can only mean that the FORM of the provision is improper.
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. I remember standing at the polls one day when the anger of the political contest gave a certain grimness to the faces of the independent electors, and a good man at my side, looking on the people, remarked, "I am satisfied that the largest part of these men, on either side, mean to vote right." I suppose considerate observers, looking at the masses of men in their blameless and in their equivocal actions, will assent, that in spite of selfishness and frivolity, the general purpose in the great number of persons is fidelity.
The Decisions which will issued from the Arab Summit should not remain dead letters, he insisted, recalling in this regard, that the Arab Foreign Ministers' Meeting and the Arab Summit coincide with the celebration of the Land Day (March 30).