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letter1

[let-er] /ˈlɛt ər/
noun
1.
a written or printed communication addressed to a person or organization and usually transmitted by mail.
2.
a symbol or character that is conventionally used in writing and printing to represent a speech sound and that is part of an alphabet.
3.
a piece of printing type bearing such a symbol or character.
4.
a particular style of type.
5.
such types collectively.
6.
Often, letters. a formal document granting a right or privilege.
7.
actual terms or wording; literal meaning, as distinct from implied meaning or intent (opposed to spirit):
the letter of the law.
8.
letters, (used with a singular or plural verb)
  1. literature in general.
  2. the profession of literature.
  3. learning; knowledge, especially of literature.
9.
an emblem consisting of the initial or monogram of a school, awarded to a student for extracurricular activity, especially in athletics.
verb (used with object)
10.
to mark or write with letters; inscribe.
verb (used without object)
11.
to earn a letter in an interscholastic or intercollegiate activity, especially a sport:
He lettered in track at Harvard.
Idioms
12.
to the letter, to the last particular; precisely:
His orders were carried out to the letter.
Origin
1175-1225
1175-1225; Middle English, variant of lettre < Old French < Latin littera alphabetic character, in plural, epistle, literature
Related forms
letterer, noun
letterless, adjective
Synonyms
8. See literature.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for to letter

letter

/ˈlɛtə/
noun
1.
any of a set of conventional symbols used in writing or printing a language, each symbol being associated with a group of phonetic values in the language; character of the alphabet
2.
a written or printed communication addressed to a person, company, etc, usually sent by post in an envelope related adjective epistolary
3.
the letter, the strict legalistic or pedantic interpretation of the meaning of an agreement, document, etc; exact wording as distinct from actual intention (esp in the phrase the letter of the law) Compare spirit1 (sense 10)
4.
(printing, archaic) a style of typeface: a fancy letter
5.
to the letter
  1. following the literal interpretation or wording exactly
  2. attending to every detail
verb
6.
to write or mark letters on (a sign, etc), esp by hand
7.
(transitive) to set down or print using letters
See also letters
Derived Forms
letterer, noun
Word Origin
C13: from Old French lettre, from Latin littera letter of the alphabet
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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Word Origin and History for to letter

letter

n.

c.1200, "graphic symbol, alphabetic sign, written character," from Old French letre (10c., Modern French lettre) "character, letter; missive, note," in plural, "literature, writing, learning," from Latin littera (also litera) "letter of the alphabet," of uncertain origin, perhaps via Etruscan from Greek diphthera "tablet," with change of d- to l- as in lachrymose. In this sense it replaced Old English bocstæf, literally "book staff" (cf. German Buchstabe "letter, character," from Old High German buohstab, from Proto-Germanic *bok-staba-m).

Latin littera also meant "a writing, document, record," and in plural litteræ "a letter, epistle," a sense first attested in English early 13c., replacing Old English ærendgewrit, literally "errand-writing." The Latin plural also meant "literature, books," and figuratively "learning, liberal education, schooling" (see letters). School letter in sports, attested by 1908, were said to have been first awarded by University of Chicago football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg. Expression to the letter "precisely" is from 1520s (earlier as after the letter). Letter-perfect is from 1845, originally in theater jargon, in reference to an actor knowing the lines exactly. Letter-press, in reference to matter printed from relief surfaces, is from 1840.

"one who lets" in any sense, c.1400, agent noun from let (v.).

v.

"to write in letters," 1660s, from letter (n.1). Earlier it meant "to instruct" (mid-15c.). Related: Lettered; lettering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for to letter
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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to letter in the Bible

in Rom. 2:27, 29 means the outward form. The "oldness of the letter" (7:6) is a phrase which denotes the old way of literal outward obedience to the law as a system of mere external rules of conduct. In 2 Cor. 3:6, "the letter" means the Mosaic law as a written law. (See WRITING.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Idioms and Phrases with to letter
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Word Value for to

2
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