Definitions for snail mail
This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word snail mail
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
physical delivery of mail, as contrasted with electronic mail.
Category: Computers, Status (usage)
Ref: Also called s-mail.
Origin of snail mail:
any mail that is physically delivered by the postal service
"email is much faster than snail mail"
Postal mail, especially as compared to email
Origin: A retronym emphasizing postal mail's slowness compared to email.
Snail mail or smail —named after the snail with its slow speed—refers to letters and missives carried by conventional postal delivery services. The phrase refers to the lag-time between dispatch of a letter and its receipt, versus the virtually instantaneous dispatch and delivery of its electronic equivalent, e-mail. It is also known, more neutrally, as paper mail, postal mail, land mail, or simply mail or post. An earlier term of the same type is surface mail, coined retrospectively after the development of airmail. This happened not too long ago, between the 1970s to 1990s. Snail mail is also a term used in reference to penpalling. Snail mail penpals are those penpals that communicate with one another through the postal system, rather than on the internet which has become the more common medium. Some online groups also use paper mail through regular gift or craft hot topics. In some countries, services are available to print and deliver emails to those unable to receive email, like people with no computers or internet access. Similar terminology was used in the 1840s to contrast the already-operating postal mail with the new telegraph. The Philadelphia North American stated: "The markets will no longer be dependent upon snail paced mails".
The New Hacker's Dictionary
Paper mail, as opposed to electronic. Sometimes written as the single word ‘SnailMail’. One's postal address is, correspondingly, a snail address. Derives from earlier coinage ‘USnail’ (from ‘U.S. Mail’), for which there have even been parody posters and stamps made. Also (less commonly) called P-mail, from ‘paper mail’ or ‘physical mail’. Oppose email.(Note: Actual garden snails progress at about 10 meters per hour, which is about 25-50 times slower than the U.K.'s Royal Mail; comparable measurements for other countries have not yet been made. More biologically apt terms might be “sloth-mail” at 250 m/hr or “tortoise-mail” at 270 m/hr. See http://www.newscientist.com/lastword/answers/789communication.jsp?tp=communication for details.)
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