dead letter


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Related to dead letter: Dead letter mail

dead letter

1. A letter that is unable to be delivered to the recipient or returned to the sender. The post office must destroy a dead letter if it can't be delivered or returned after a certain period of time.
2. An existing law or agreement that is no longer obeyed or enforced. The state's Sunday law is a dead letter as many stores open and conduct business on that day.
See also: dead, letter

dead letter

 
1. a piece of mail that is returned to the post office as both undeliverable and unreturnable. At the end of the year, the post office usually has bushels of dead letters. Some of the dead letters are opened to see if there is an address inside.
2. an issue, law, or matter that is no longer important or that no longer has force or power. His point about the need for education reform is a dead letter. It is being done now. This point of law is a dead letter since the last Supreme Court ruling on this matter.
See also: dead, letter

dead letter

1. 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]
2. 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]
See also: dead, letter

a dead letter

If a law or agreement is a dead letter, people do not pay any attention to it, although it still exists. In this conflict, international humanitarian law is a dead letter. Note: A dead letter is a letter that the post office is unable either to deliver or to return to the sender, because it does not have the right addresses.
See also: dead, letter

a dead letter

a law or practice no longer observed.
This phrase was originally used with reference to passages in the biblical epistles in which St Paul compares the life-giving spirit of the New Testament with what he sees as the dead ‘letter’ of the Mosaic law. Later (until the late 19th century) Dead-letter Office was the name given to the organization that dealt with unclaimed mail or mail that could not be delivered for any reason. The expression has been used metaphorically for an obsolete or unobserved law since the mid 17th century.
1998 Spectator They were saying on the news…that some provision of the Stormont agreement might end up a dead letter.
See also: dead, letter

a dead ˈletter

an idea, a proposal, etc. that is no longer valid, useful, etc: The plans for a new school are a dead letter, now that we know there will be no students for it.
See also: dead, letter

dead letter

1. n. a letter that cannot move through the post office because the addressee does not exist or because the address is wrong or illegible. (Standard English.) Every now and then they open the dead letters to see if they can figure out who they were meant for.
2. n. an issue that does not matter anymore. This contract is a dead letter. Forget it!
See also: dead, letter
References in periodicals archive ?
Once again, the pagan captive's hair and nails symbolize all that is dead, including the dead letter which must be done away with.
Effective regulation of hate speeches at all levels is required as the authors of such speeches can be booked under the existing penal law and all the law enforcing agencies must ensure that the existing law is not rendered a dead letter," said the bench.
In a scathing assessment of the Draft Wales Bill, Mr Holtham stated in his written evidence to the committee: "The main weakness of this Bill is that much of it is likely to remain a dead letter.
Hence, it's been clear for almost two years that the agreement was a dead letter.
Lisbon Treaty provisions create a framework and specific rules for public services that must not remain a dead letter, warn public service providers, who want the EU to give more consideration to their activity.
He added, "The recent government measures remain a dead letter, until the implementation of the demands of the demonstrators on the ground, stressing the lack of change in the reality of the case during the past period.
Without the resolution, the Constitution, in the words of James Madison, '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,'" read a (http://blogs.
Claude Turmes (Greens-EFA, Luxembourg) applauded the outcome but warned that without a reform of the EU's Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), energy saving and energy transition measures may remain a dead letter.
To oppose [exports to India] on the basis of a dead letter treaty that doesn't do anything is nonsense," he added.
THE dead letter drop was the favourite way for spies to pass microfilm or letters to handlers.
During 2008, the EU decided to boost ties with Israel but the idea has been a dead letter since the Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip earlier this year.
Dear Editor, If I have understood things correctly, the widening of the M6 to the north is regarded more or less as a dead letter and the planners have reached "point non plus".
Only a determined effort to resolve these disputes on equal bases of fairness, practicality and the law can hope to produce an agreement that is not summarily rejected by so many people as to make it a dead letter.
1969: The restriction "in private" becomes a dead letter at once.
Is the United Nations Charter a dead letter thanks to the U.