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English definition of “dead letter”

dead letter

noun uk   us  

dead letter noun (MAIL)

[C] a letter that cannot be delivered to the address written on it and cannot be returned to the person who sent it: the dead-letter office

dead letter noun (LAW/AGREEMENT)

[C usually singular] a law or agreement that is no longer effective: The ceasefire treaty was a dead letter as soon as it was signed, as neither side ever had any intention of keeping to it.
(Definition of dead letter from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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