dead letter


Definition of dead letter

1 : something that has lost its force or authority without being formally abolished
2 : a letter that is undeliverable and unreturnable by the post office

Examples of dead letter in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There were ways to defend Joy Silk against this First Amendment claim, but Manoli chose instead simply to assert, falsely, that Joy Silk was a dead letter, even though the NLRB had never overturned it. Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 20 Apr. 2022 Our one means of removing bad presidents is a dead letter. Ryan Cooper, The Week, 3 Nov. 2021 Overnight, Roe became a dead letter in the second largest state. CNN, 17 Sep. 2021 While insistence on a balanced budget in exchange for debt limit concessions is also a dead letter, steps in that direction need to be part of the discourse. Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 As a matter of reality, Roe vs. Wade is a dead letter in Texas today. NBC News, 5 Sep. 2021 But if the justices stand by as Texas effectively imposes a ban on most abortions performed in the state, then Roe may already be a dead letter. Matt Ford, The New Republic, 1 Sep. 2021 Politically, though, the pamphlet was a dead letter. Zachary D. Carter, The New Republic, 17 June 2021 Outside of the Trump Administration and the right wing of the Republican Party, that’s now a dead letter. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, 21 Nov. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dead letter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of dead letter

1627, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for dead letter

Time Traveler

The first known use of dead letter was in 1627

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Dictionary Entries Near dead letter

dead-leaf butterfly

dead letter

dead lift

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Statistics for dead letter

Cite this Entry

“Dead letter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jul. 2022.

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