Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A letter, especially a formal one. synonym: letter.
  • noun A literary composition in the form of a letter.
  • noun One of the letters included as a book in the New Testament.
  • noun An excerpt from one of these letters, read as part of a religious service.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A written communication directed or sent to a person at a distance; a letter; a letter missive: used particularly in dignified discourse or in speaking of ancient writings: as, the epistles of Paul, of Pliny, or of Cicero.
  • noun [capitalized] In liturgics, one of the eucharistic lessons, taken, with some exceptions, from an epistolary book of the New Testament and read before the gospel.
  • noun Any kind of harangue or discourse; a communication.
  • To write as a letter; communicate by writing or by an epistle.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To write; to communicate in a letter or by writing.
  • noun A writing directed or sent to a person or persons; a written communication; a letter; -- applied usually to formal, didactic, or elegant letters.
  • noun (Eccl.) One of the letters in the New Testament which were addressed to their Christian brethren by Apostles.
  • noun the right side of an altar or church to a person looking from the nave toward the chancel.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A letter, or a literary composition in the form of a letter.
  • noun Christianity One of the letters included as a book of the New Testament.
  • verb obsolete To write; to communicate in a letter or by writing.

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

  • noun a book of the New Testament written in the form of a letter from an Apostle
  • noun a specially long, formal letter

Etymologies

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

[Middle English epistel, from Old French epistle, from Latin epistola, from Greek epistolē, from epistellein, to send a message to : epi-, epi- + stellein, to send; see stel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French epistre, from Latin epistola, from Ancient Greek ἐπιστολή (epistolē), from ἐπιστέλλω (epistellō, "I send a message"), from ἐπί (epi, "upon") + στέλλω (stellō, "I prepare, send").

Examples

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