What does letter mean?

Definitions for letter
ˈlɛt ərlet·ter

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word letter.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. letter, missivenoun

    a written message addressed to a person or organization

    "mailed an indignant letter to the editor"

  2. letter, letter of the alphabet, alphabetic characternoun

    the conventional characters of the alphabet used to represent speech

    "his grandmother taught him his letters"

  3. letternoun

    owner who lets another person use something (housing usually) for hire

  4. letternoun

    a strictly literal interpretation (as distinct from the intention)

    "he followed instructions to the letter"; "he obeyed the letter of the law"

  5. letter, varsity letterverb

    an award earned by participation in a school sport

    "he won letters in three sports"

  6. letterverb

    win an athletic letter

  7. letterverb

    set down or print with letters

  8. letterverb

    mark letters on or mark with letters


  1. letternoun

    A symbol in an alphabet, bookstave.

    There are 26 letters in the English alphabet.

  2. letternoun

    A written message. See also note.

    I wrote a letter to my sister about my life.

  3. letter

    Literal meaning.

    "Some MEPs from some countries may have pocketed u00A32m more than I have by observing the letter but not the spirit of the rules." -

  4. letter

    A size of paper, 8½ in × 11 in (215.9 mm × 279.4 mm, US paper sizes rounded to the nearest 5 mm)

  5. letter

    A size of paper, 215 mm × 280 mm

  6. letterverb

    to print, inscribe, or paint letters on something.

  7. letterverb

    To earn a varsity letter (award).

  8. letternoun

    One who lets, or lets out.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Letternoun

    Etymology: from let.

  2. LETTERnoun

    Etymology: from let.

    A superscription was written over him in letters of Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Luke xxiii. 38.

    Thou whoreson Zed! thou unnecessary letter! William Shakespeare.

    They use to write it on the top of letters. William Shakespeare.

    I have a letter from her
    Of such contents as you will wonder at. William Shakespeare.

    When a Spaniard would write a letter by him, the Indian would marvel how it should be possible, that he, to whom he came, should be able to know all things. George Abbot.

    The asses will do very well for trumpeters, and the hares will make excellent letter carriers. Roger L'Estrange, Fables.

    The stile of letters ought to be free, easy, and natural; as near approaching to familiar conversation as possible: the two best qualities in conversation are, good humour and good breeding; those letters are therefore certainly the best that shew the most of these two qualities. William Walsh.

    Mrs. P. B. has writ to me, and is one of the best letter writers I know; very good sense, civility, and friendship, without any stiffness or constraint. Jonathan Swift.

    Touching translations of holy scripture, we may not disallow of their painful travels herein, who strictly have tied themselves to the very original letter. Richard Hooker, b. v.

    In obedience to human laws, we must observe the letter of the law, without doing violence to the reason of the law, and the intention of the lawgiver. Jeremy Taylor, holy living.

    Those words of his must be understood not according to the bare rigour of the letter, but according to the allowances of expression. Robert South, Sermons.

    What! since the pretor did my fetters loose,
    And left me freely at my own dispose,
    May I not live without controul and awe,
    Excepting still the letter of the law? John Dryden, Persius.

    The Jews marvelled, saying, How knoweth this man letters, having never learned? John vii. 15.

    Good laws are at best but a dead letter. Joseph Addison, Freeholder.

    The iron ladles that letter founders use to the casting of printing letters, are kept constantly in melting metal. Joseph Moxon.

  3. To Letterverb

    To stamp with letters.

    Etymology: from letter.

    I observed one weight lettered on both sides; and I found on one side, written in the dialect of men, and underneath it, calamities; on the other side was written, in the language of the gods, and underneath, blessings. Addison.


  1. Letter

    Letter From America is a song written and performed by Scottish band The Proclaimers, that appears on their 1987 debut album, This Is the Story.


  1. letter

    A letter is a written or printed symbol representing a single sound in speech or an element of an alphabet used in a written language. It can also refer to a written message or communication addressed to a person or organization.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Letternoun

    one who lets or permits; one who lets anything for hire

  2. Letternoun

    one who retards or hinders

  3. Letternoun

    a mark or character used as the representative of a sound, or of an articulation of the human organs of speech; a first element of written language

  4. Letternoun

    a written or printed communication; a message expressed in intelligible characters on something adapted to conveyance, as paper, parchment, etc.; an epistle

  5. Letternoun

    a writing; an inscription

  6. Letternoun

    verbal expression; literal statement or meaning; exact signification or requirement

  7. Letternoun

    a single type; type, collectively; a style of type

  8. Letternoun

    learning; erudition; as, a man of letters

  9. Letternoun

    a letter; an epistle

  10. Letterverb

    to impress with letters; to mark with letters or words; as, a book gilt and lettered

  11. Etymology: [OE. lettre, F. lettre, OF. letre, fr. L. littera, litera, a letter; pl., an epistle, a writing, literature, fr. linere, litum, to besmear, to spread or rub over; because one of the earliest modes of writing was by graving the characters upon tablets smeared over or covered with wax. Pliny, xiii. 11. See Liniment, and cf. Literal.]


  1. Letter

    A letter is a written message containing information from one party to another. The role of letters in communication has changed significantly since the nineteenth century. Historically, letters were the only reliable means of communication between two people in different locations. As communication technology has diversified, posted letters have become less important as a routine form of communication. For example, the development of the telegraph shortened the time taken to send a letter by transferring the letter as an electrical signal between distant points. At the telegraph office closest to the destination of the letter, the signal was transferred back into a hardcopy format and sent as a normal mail to the person's home. This allowed the normal speed of communication to be drastically shortened for large distances. The facsimile machine took this one step further: an entire letter could be completely transferred electrically from the sender's house to the receiver's house by means of the telephone network as an image. Today, the internet by means of email plays a large part in written communications. Historically, letters exist from the time of ancient India, ancient Egypt and Sumer, through Rome, Greece and China, up to the present day. Letters make up several of the books of the Bible. Archives of correspondence, whether for personal, diplomatic, or business reasons, serve as primary sources for historians.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Letter

    let′ėr, n. a conventional mark to express a sound: a written or printed message: literal meaning: a printing-type: (pl.) learning, literary culture.—v.t. to stamp letters upon.—ns. Lett′er-bal′ance, a balance for testing the weight of a letter for post; Lett′er-board (print.), board on which matter in type is placed for keeping or convenience in handling; Lett′er-book, a book in which letters or copies of letters are kept; Lett′er-box, a box in a post-office, at the door of a house, &c., for receiving letters; Lett′er-carr′ier, a postman; Lett′er-case, a portable writing-desk.—adj. Lett′ered, marked with letters: educated: versed in literature: belonging to learning (Lettered proof and Proof before letters; see Proof).—ns. Lett′erer; Lett′er-found′er, one who founds or casts letters or types; Lett′ering, the act of impressing letters: the letters impressed.—adj. Lett′erless, illiterate.—ns. Lett′er-miss′ive, an official letter on matters of common interest, sent to members of a church: a letter from the sovereign addressed to a dean and chapter, naming the person they are to elect bishop—also Royal letter; Lett′ern (same as Lectern); Lett′er-of-cred′it, a letter authorising credit or cash to a certain sum to be paid to the bearer; Lett′er-of-marque (märk), a commission given to a private ship by a government to make reprisals on the vessels of another state.—adj. Lett′er-per′fect, kept in the memory exactly (of an actor's part, &c.).—ns. Lett′erpress, letters impressed or matter printed from type, as distinguished from engraving: a copying-press; Lett′ers-pā′tent, a writing conferring a patent or authorising a person to enjoy some privilege, so called because written on open sheets of parchment; Lett′er-stamp, a post-office implement for defacing a postage-stamp: a stamp for imprinting dates, &c., on letters or papers; Lett′er-wood, the heart-wood of a tree found in British Guiana, dark brown, with darker spots somewhat resembling hieroglyphics; Lett′er-writ′er, one who writes letters, esp. for hire: a book containing forms for imitation in writing letters.—Letter of indication (see Circular); Letters of administration, a document issued by court appointing an administrator of an intestate estate; Letters requisitory, or rogatory, an instrument by which a court of one country asks that of another to take certain evidence on its behalf; Lettre de cachet (see Cachet). [Fr. lettre—L. littera.]

U.S. National Library of Medicine

  1. Letter

    Work consisting of written or printed communication between individuals or between persons and representatives of corporate bodies. The correspondence may be personal or professional. In medical and other scientific publications the letter is usually from one or more authors to the editor of the journal or book publishing the item being commented upon or discussed. LETTER is often accompanied by COMMENT.

Editors Contribution

  1. letter

    A written or typed document.

    They sent a letter confirming the details of the agreement.

    Submitted by MaryC on March 4, 2020  

  2. letter

    Symbol with meaning.

    Letters form the part of many alphabets.

    Submitted by MaryC on January 31, 2020  

Suggested Resources

  1. Letter

    Alphabet vs. Letter -- In this Grammar.com article you will learn the differences between the words Alphabet and Letter.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records


    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Letter is ranked #88685 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Letter surname appeared 209 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Letter.

    95.2% or 199 total occurrences were White.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'letter' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #761

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'letter' in Written Corpus Frequency: #643

  3. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'letter' in Nouns Frequency: #162

How to pronounce letter?

How to say letter in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of letter in Chaldean Numerology is: 5

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of letter in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of letter in a Sentence

  1. Mark Twain:

    I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.

  2. Jacqueline van Maarsen:

    Otto gave me a copy of the farewell letter Anne wrote to me in hiding. I was surprised because there were two letters: the second was a reply to a letter she pretended I had written to her. She wrote: “I am thinking so much of you,” and “Let’s always be good friends until I come back.” She must have been very lonely.

  3. Libby Armintrout:

    It’s obvious that the Facebook CEO shares this high regard for his mom. During the town hall meeting with the prime minister of India in 2015, one of the topics he asked the prime minister about was about his mother. And it turns out Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg did n’t look too far from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mom in Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg choice of spouse, whom Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg married in 2012. Like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mother, wife Priscilla Chan is an understated physician who shuns the spotlight. Related : From Under the Hoodie : 5 Entrepreneurial Lessons From Mark Zuckerberg When talking about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mother, Microsoft founder Mary Maxell Gates, currently the richest man in the world, with an estimated worth $ 76.7 billion, has often spoken about a letter she wrote to his then-fianc Melinda the day before their wedding. From those to whom much is given, much is expected, her letter read. Mary Maxell Gates, a long-time philanthropist, died six months later at the age of 64 of breast cancer. Mary Maxell Gates kept Mary Maxell Gates mother’s letter, and Mary Maxell Gates swift foray into the world of philanthropy, establishing The Bill Melinda Gates Foundation with the help of Mary Maxell Gates father, Bill Sr., has been due to the influence of Mary Maxell Gates mother, a formidable business mind in her own right. Mary was a top student at her high school and in college, where she met her husband, a lawyer. They had three children. She threw herself into volunteering and served on the boards of numerous prominent organizations, including the United Way, where she first served as the county chair and, later, the first female national chair. She convinced her son, who was CEO of Microsoft at the time, to start the Employees Giving Campaign at Microsoft to benefit the United Way and other charities. ( He later join the board.) The considerable list of boards she served on is impressive, and when she was appointed to the board of regents of University of Washington in 1975, she spearheaded the move to divest the university’s holding in apartheid South Africa. According to her daughter, Libby Armintrout, Libby Armintrout was an extremely engaged parent and had high expectations of all Libby Armintrout children. Not just grades and that sort of thing, but how we behaved in public, how we would be socially.

  4. Adrian Frutiger:

    If you remember the shape of your spoon at lunch, it has to be the wrong shape. The spoon and the letter are tools; one to take food from the bowl, the other to take information off the page... When it is a good design, the reader has to feel comfortable because the letter is both banal and beautiful.

  5. Charles Lamb:

    The red-letter days, now become, to all intents and purposes, dead-letter days.

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Translations for letter

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    a hazy or indistinct representation
    • A. blur
    • B. observe
    • C. obligate
    • D. restore

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