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dead letter

noun
1.
a law, ordinance, etc., that has lost its force but has not been formally repealed or abolished.
2.
a letter that cannot reach the addressee or be returned to the sender, usually because of incorrect address, and that is sent to and handled in a special division or department (dead-letter office) of a general post office.
Origin
1570-1580
1570-80
Related forms
dead-letter, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for deadletter office

dead letter

noun
1.
a letter that cannot be delivered or returned because it lacks adequate directions
2.
a law or ordinance that is no longer enforced but has not been formally repealed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 & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Slang definitions & phrases for deadletter office

dead letter

noun phrase

A matter no longer of concern or currency; a bygone issue (1663+)


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with deadletter office
.
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 ]
.
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 ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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