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Line breaks: let¦ter
Pronunciation: /ˈlɛtə

Definition of letter in English:


1A character representing one or more of the sounds used in speech; any of the symbols of an alphabet: a capital letter
More example sentences
  • Three of its vowels are each represented by a letter of the alphabet.
  • If three letters together represent a single sound, they constitute a trigraph, such as tch in catch and sch in schmaltz.
  • A group of eight bits makes up a byte, which can represent many types of information, such as a letter of the alphabet or decimal character.
alphabetical character, character, sign, symbol, mark, type, figure, device, rune
technical grapheme
1.1 (letters) British informal The initials of a degree or other qualification: your personality matters far more than letters after your name
More example sentences
  • Advisers who have gained this qualification will have the letters AFPC after their names.
  • Ballina woman Dorothy Duffy already has eleven letters of qualification after her name.
  • One large test and a somewhat rigorous industry experience qualification and I can now put some letters after my name.
intellect, intelligence, enlightenment, illumination, wisdom, sagacity, culture, cultivation;
literature, books, humanities, belles-lettres
1.2US A school or college initial as a mark of proficiency, especially in sport: [as modifier]: a letter jacket
More example sentences
  • They fawned over him just because he had a good smile, a fancy car, and a varsity letter jacket.
  • Some appear to have just discovered grunge; others wear navy-colored jackets with red sports letters.
  • Throughout school, he also pursued sports, earning a varsity letter in wrestling while at Harvard.
2A written, typed, or printed communication, sent in an envelope by post or messenger: he sent a letter to Mrs Falconer
More example sentences
  • I must have written him a letter, because he sent me a postcard in reply.
  • We'll stick to the big social events and if people want other things in these pages they can write letters and send us pictures.
  • He also sent out the letter before he wrote it (according to the date).
written message, message, written communication, communication, note, line, missive, epistle, dispatch, report, bulletin;
correspondence, news, information, intelligence, word;
post, mail
2.1 (letters) A legal or formal document.
Example sentences
  • As well, he was unable to open an Estate bank account until the letters of probate were issued, which occurred on November 14, 1997.
3 (the letter) The precise terms of a statement or requirement; the strict verbal interpretation: we must keep the spirit of the law as well as the letter
More example sentences
  • Museum directors and trustees are required to honor the letter and spirit of benefactors' wishes.
  • It is up to Bulgarians to honour the letter and spirit of the country's constitution, or to amend that very constitution if a need to do so is felt.
4 (letters) Literature: the world of letters
More example sentences
  • Canadian art, literature, and letters have traditionally mythologized the North.
5 [mass noun] Printing A style of typeface.


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1 [with object] Inscribe letters or writing on: her name was lettered in gold
More example sentences
  • Horse racing is big in New Zealand, and, before the advent of electronic displays, the bookmakers lettered horses' names on white wooden boards in heavy black sans-serif characters.
  • Yet the names of donors are lettered on the walls, museum-style.
  • The name has been professionally lettered on in bright letters.
1.1Classify with letters: he numbered and lettered the paragraphs
More example sentences
  • I now have two lists, one for crates, lettered A-L and one for boxes, numbered 1-14.
2 [no object] US informal Be given a school or college initial as a mark of proficiency in sport: in high school she lettered in soccer, basketball and softball
More example sentences
  • In high school, she lettered in five sports - soccer, track, basketball, softball, and, with the boys, football.
  • I finished out the year, actually lettering in the sport.
  • I did, however, join the golf team for one year in high school just so I could say I had lettered in a team sport.


Middle English: from Old French lettre, from Latin litera, littera 'letter of the alphabet', (plural) 'epistle, literature, culture'.


to the letter

With adherence to every detail: the method was followed to the letter
More example sentences
  • It is a case where a strict adherence to the letter would involve an error in substance.
  • He says his intention is to highlight the absurdities and deceptions in consumer culture by following its rules to the letter.
  • The council stands by its decision, insisting that the consultation process has been followed to the letter.
strictly, precisely, exactly, accurately, closely, faithfully, religiously, punctiliously, literally, with a literal interpretation, with strict attention to detail, word for word, letter for letter, verbatim, in every detail, by the book

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