Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

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  • n. A law, directive, or factor still formally in effect but no longer valid or enforced.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An item of mail that cannot be delivered to its intended recipient; after some time it is returned to the sender, or destroyed
  • n. A law that is no longer enforced

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. That which has lost its force or authority; as, the law has become a dead letter.
  • n. etc. See under Dead, Drop, etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. mail that can neither be delivered nor returned
  • n. the state of something that has outlived its relevance

Etymologies

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