to the letter

letter

1 [let-er]
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)
a.
literature in general.
b.
the profession of literature.
c.
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; Middle English, variant of lettre < Old French < Latin littera alphabetic character, in plural, epistle, literature

letterer, noun
letterless, adjective


8. See literature.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
letter (ˈlɛtə)
 
n
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 envelopeRelated: epistolary
3.  the letter Compare spirit 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)
4.  archaic printing a style of typeface: a fancy letter
5.  to the letter
 a.  following the literal interpretation or wording exactly
 b.  attending to every detail
 
vb
6.  to write or mark letters on (a sign, etc), esp by hand
7.  (tr) to set down or print using letters
 
Related: epistolary
 
[C13: from Old French lettre, from Latin littera letter of the alphabet]
 
'letterer
 
n

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

letter
mid-12c., "graphic symbol, written character," from O.Fr. lettre, from L. littera (also litera) "letter of the alphabet," of uncertain origin, perhaps from Gk. diphthera "tablet," with change of d- to l- as in lachrymose. In this sense it replaced O.E. bocstæf,
lit. "book staff" (cf. Ger. Buchstabe "letter, character," from O.H.G. buohstab, from P.Gmc. *bok-staba-m). The pl. litteræ in L. meant "epistle, written documents, literature," a sense first attested early 13c. in M.E., replacing O.E. ærendgewrit, lit. "errand-writing." School letter in sports, first awarded by U. of Chicago football coach Amos Alonzo Stagg.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Letter definition


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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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

to the letter

Precisely, as in If you follow the directions to the letter, you can't go wrong. Letter here refers to the exact terms of some statement. [c. 1800]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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