n. & v.
1 a a character representing one or more of the simple or compound sounds used in speech, any of the alphabetic symbols. b (in pl.) colloq. the initials of a degree etc. after the holder's name. c US a school or college initial as a mark of proficiency in games etc.
2 a a written, typed, or printed communication, usu. sent by post or messenger. b (in pl.) an addressed legal or formal document for any of various purposes.
3 the precise terms of a statement, the strict verbal interpretation (opp. SPIRIT n. 6) (according to the letter of the law).
4 (in pl.) a literature. b acquaintance with books, erudition. c authorship (the profession of letters).
5 Printing a types collectively. b a fount of type.
1 a inscribe letters on. b impress a title etc. on (a book-cover).
2 classify with letters.
Phrases and idioms:
letter-bomb a terrorist explosive device in the form of a postal packet. letter-box esp. Brit. a box or slot into which letters are posted or delivered. letter-card a folded card with a gummed edge for posting as a letter. letter-heading = LETTERHEAD. letter of comfort an assurance about a debt, short of a legal guarantee, given to a bank by a third party. letter of credence see CREDENCE. letter of credit see CREDIT. letter-perfect Theatr. knowing one's part perfectly. letter-quality of the quality of printing suitable for a business letter; producing print of this quality. letters missive see MISSIVE. letters of administration authority to administer the estate of an intestate. letters of marque see MARQUE(2). letters patent see PATENT. letter-writer
1 a person who writes letters.
2 a book giving guidance on writing letters. man of letters a scholar or author. to the letter with adherence to every detail.
letterer n. letterless adj.
Etymology: ME f. OF lettre f. L litera, littera letter of alphabet, (in pl.) epistle, literature

Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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  • letter — letter1 [let′ər] n. [ME lettre < OFr < L littera, letter of the alphabet, (in pl.) a letter, epistle] 1. a written or printed symbol employed to represent a speech sound or sounds; character in an alphabet: in some languages, as English,… …   English World dictionary

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  • Letter — Sf erw. fach. (17. Jh.) Entlehnung. In Anlehnung an frz. lettre umgebildet aus älterem Litter, das in mittelhochdeutscher Zeit aus l. littera Buchstabe entlehnt ist (frz. lettre ist dessen lautgerechter Nachfolger). Die Herkunft des lateinischen… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

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