letter

\ \ [13] The distant ancestry of the word letter has never been satisfactorily explained. One possible candidate as a source that has been put forward is Greek diphthéraiwriting tablets’.
\ \ But the earliest precursor that can be positively identified is Latin littera. This meant ‘alphabetic symbol’, or in the plural ‘document’ and ‘epistle’. English acquired it via Old French lettre. Also from Latin littera are English literature and obliterate [16], which means etymologically ‘remove letters’.
\ \ Cf.LITERATURE, OBLITERATE

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • letter — let‧ter [ˈletə ǁ ər] noun [countable] 1. a written or printed message that is usually put in an envelope and sent by mail: • Please sign the letter and mail it back within two weeks. alloˈcation ˌletter also alˈlotment ˌletter FINANCE a letter… …   Financial and business terms

  • letter — let·ter n 1: a direct written statement addressed to an individual or organization; broadly: an official communication see also counterletter determination letter: a letter from an administrative agency (as the Internal Revenue Service) usu. in… …   Law dictionary

  • Letter — Let ter, n. [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… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Letter — and similar can mean: *Letter (alphabet), a grapheme, part of an alphabet, abjad, abugida, or syllabary *Letter (message), correspondence, a written message *Letter (paper size), the letter size paper * Letters can also mean literature, as in… …   Wikipedia

  • letter — letter, epistle, missive, note, message, dispatch, report, memorandum are comparable when they mean a communication sent or transmitted as distinct from one conveyed directly from source to recipient (as by oral utterance). Letter is the ordinary …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • letter — letter1 [let′ər] n. [ME lettre < OFr < L littera, letter of the alphabet, (in pl.) a letter, epistle] 1. a written or printed symbol employed to represent a speech sound or sounds; character in an alphabet: in some languages, as English,… …   English World dictionary

  • letter — ► NOUN 1) a character representing one or more of the sounds used in speech; any of the symbols of an alphabet. 2) a written, typed, or printed communication, sent by post or messenger. 3) the precise terms of a statement or requirement. 4)… …   English terms dictionary

  • Letter — Sf erw. fach. (17. Jh.) Entlehnung. In Anlehnung an frz. lettre umgebildet aus älterem Litter, das in mittelhochdeutscher Zeit aus l. littera Buchstabe entlehnt ist (frz. lettre ist dessen lautgerechter Nachfolger). Die Herkunft des lateinischen… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • letter — [n1] symbol of an alphabet ABCs*, alphabet, cap, capital, character, majuscule, minuscule, rune, sign, small letter, type, uncial; concept 284 Ant. number letter [n2] written communication acknowledgment, answer, billet, dispatch, epistle, junk… …   New thesaurus

  • letter — According to the Private Express Statutes, a message directed to a specific person or an address and recorded in or on a tangible object. Also a shortened way to refer to letter size mail …   Glossary of postal terms

  • Letter — Let ter, n. [From {Let} to hinder.] One who retards or hinders. [Archaic.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.