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From: DICT.TW English-Chinese Dictionary 英漢字典

 dead letter

From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Let·ter, n.
 1. 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.
    And a superscription also was written over him in letters of Greek, and Latin, and Hebrew.   --Luke xxiii. 38.
 2. A written or printed communication; a message expressed in intelligible characters on something adapted to conveyance, as paper, parchment, etc.; an epistle.
    The style of letters ought to be free, easy, and natural.   --Walsh.
 3. A writing; an inscription. [Obs.]
    None could expound what this letter meant.   --Chaucer.
 4. Verbal expression; literal statement or meaning; exact signification or requirement.
    We must observe the letter of the law, without doing violence to the reason of the law and the intention of the lawgiver.   --Jer. Taylor.
    I broke the letter of it to keep the sense.   --Tennyson.
 5. Print. A single type; type, collectively; a style of type.
    Under these buildings . . . was the king's printing house, and that famous letter so much esteemed.   --Evelyn.
 6. pl. Learning; erudition; as, a man of letters.
 7. pl. A letter; an epistle. [Obs.]
 8. Teleg. A telegram longer than an ordinary message sent at rates lower than the standard message rate in consideration of its being sent and delivered subject to priority in service of regular messages. Such telegrams are called by the Western Union Company day letters, or night letters according to the time of sending, and by The Postal Telegraph Company day lettergrams, or night lettergrams.
 Dead letter, Drop letter, etc. See under Dead, Drop, etc.
 Letter book, a book in which copies of letters are kept.
 Letter box, a box for the reception of letters to be mailed or delivered.
 Letter carrier, a person who carries letters; a postman; specif., an officer of the post office who carries letters to the persons to whom they are addressed, and collects letters to be mailed.
 Letter cutter, one who engraves letters or letter punches.
 Letter lock, a lock that can not be opened when fastened, unless certain movable lettered rings or disks forming a part of it are in such a position (indicated by a particular combination of the letters) as to permit the bolt to be withdrawn.
    A strange lock that opens with AMEN.   --Beau. & Fl.
 -- Letter paper, paper for writing letters on; especially, a size of paper intermediate between note paper and foolscap. See Paper.
 Letter punch, a steel punch with a letter engraved on the end, used in making the matrices for type.
 Letters of administration Law, the instrument by which an administrator or administratrix is authorized to administer the goods and estate of a deceased person.
 Letter of attorney, Letter of credit, etc. See under Attorney, Credit, etc.
 Letter of license, a paper by which creditors extend a debtor's time for paying his debts.
 Letters close or Letters clause Eng. Law., letters or writs directed to particular persons for particular purposes, and hence closed or sealed on the outside; -- distinguished from letters patent. --Burrill.
 Letters of orders Eccl., a document duly signed and sealed, by which a bishop makes it known that he has regularly ordained a certain person as priest, deacon, etc.
 Letters patent, Letters overt, or Letters open Eng. Law, a writing executed and sealed, by which power and authority are granted to a person to do some act, or enjoy some right; as, letters patent under the seal of England.  The common commercial patent is a derivative form of such a right.
 Letter-sheet envelope, a stamped sheet of letter paper issued by the government, prepared to be folded and sealed for transmission by mail without an envelope.
 Letters testamentary Law, an instrument granted by the proper officer to an executor after probate of a will, authorizing him to act as executor.
 Letter writer. (a) One who writes letters. (b) A machine for copying letters. (c) A book giving directions and forms for the writing of letters.

From: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)

 Dead a.
 1. Deprived of life; -- opposed to alive and living; reduced to that state of a being in which the organs of motion and life have irrevocably ceased to perform their functions; as, a dead tree; a dead man. “The queen, my lord, is dead.”
    The crew, all except himself, were dead of hunger.   --Arbuthnot.
    Seek him with candle, bring him dead or living.   --Shak.
 2. Destitute of life; inanimate; as, dead matter.
 3. Resembling death in appearance or quality; without show of life; deathlike; as, a dead sleep.
 4. Still as death; motionless; inactive; useless; as, dead calm; a dead load or weight.
 5. So constructed as not to transmit sound; soundless; as, a dead floor.
 6. Unproductive; bringing no gain; unprofitable; as, dead capital; dead stock in trade.
 7. Lacking spirit; dull; lusterless; cheerless; as, dead eye; dead fire; dead color, etc.
 8. Monotonous or unvaried; as, a dead level or pain; a dead wall. “The ground is a dead flat.”
 9. Sure as death; unerring; fixed; complete; as, a dead shot; a dead certainty.
    I had them a dead bargain.   --Goldsmith.
 10. Bringing death; deadly.
 11. Wanting in religious spirit and vitality; as, dead faith; dead works. Dead in trespasses.”
 12. Paint. (a) Flat; without gloss; -- said of painting which has been applied purposely to have this effect. (b) Not brilliant; not rich; thus, brown is a dead color, as compared with crimson.
 13. Law Cut off from the rights of a citizen; deprived of the power of enjoying the rights of property; as, one banished or becoming a monk is civilly dead.
 14. Mach. Not imparting motion or power; as, the dead spindle of a lathe, etc.  See Spindle.
 15. Elec. Carrying no current, or producing no useful effect; -- said of a conductor in a dynamo or motor, also of a telegraph wire which has no instrument attached and, therefore, is not in use.
 16.  Out of play; regarded as out of the game; -- said of a ball, a piece, or a player under certain conditions in cricket, baseball, checkers, and some other games.
    [In golf], a ball is said to lie dead when it lies so near the hole that the player is certain to hole it in the next stroke.    --Encyc. of Sport.
 Dead ahead Naut., directly ahead; -- said of a ship or any object, esp. of the wind when blowing from that point toward which a vessel would go.
 Dead angle Mil., an angle or space which can not be seen or defended from behind the parapet.
 Dead block, either of two wooden or iron blocks intended to serve instead of buffers at the end of a freight car.
 Dead calm Naut., no wind at all.
 Dead center, or Dead point Mach., either of two points in the orbit of a crank, at which the crank and connecting rod lie a straight line. It corresponds to the end of a stroke; as, A and B are dead centers of the crank mechanism in which the crank C drives, or is driven by, the lever L.
 Dead color Paint., a color which has no gloss upon it.
 Dead coloring Oil paint., the layer of colors, the preparation for what is to follow. In modern painting this is usually in monochrome.
 Dead door Shipbuilding, a storm shutter fitted to the outside of the quarter-gallery door.
 Dead flat Naut., the widest or midship frame.
 Dead freight Mar. Law, a sum of money paid by a person who charters a whole vessel but fails to make out a full cargo. The payment is made for the unoccupied capacity. --Abbott.
 Dead ground Mining, the portion of a vein in which there is no ore.
 Dead hand, a hand that can not alienate, as of a person civilly dead. “Serfs held in dead hand.” --Morley. See Mortmain.
 Dead head Naut., a rough block of wood used as an anchor buoy.
 Dead heat, a heat or course between two or more race horses, boats, etc., in which they come out exactly equal, so that neither wins.
 Dead horse, an expression applied to a debt for wages paid in advance. [Law]
 Dead language, a language which is no longer spoken or in common use by a people, and is known only in writings, as the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
 Dead letter. (a) A letter which, after lying for a certain fixed time uncalled for at the post office to which it was directed, is then sent to the general post office to be opened. (b) That which has lost its force or authority; as, the law has become a dead letter.
 Dead-letter office, a department of the general post office where dead letters are examined and disposed of.
 Dead level, a term applied to a flat country.
 Dead lift, (a) a direct lift, without assistance from mechanical advantage, as from levers, pulleys, etc.; hence, an extreme emergency. “(As we say) at a dead lift.” --Robynson (More's Utopia). (b) Weighlifting The lifting of a weight from the ground, without raising it to the shoulders.
 Dead line Mil., a line drawn within or around a military prison, to cross which involves for a prisoner the penalty of being instantly shot.
 Dead load Civil Engin., a constant, motionless load, as the weight of a structure, in distinction from a moving load, as a train of cars, or a variable pressure, as of wind.
 Dead march Mus., a piece of solemn music intended to be played as an accompaniment to a funeral procession.
 Dead nettle Bot., a harmless plant with leaves like a nettle (Lamium album).
 Dead oil Chem., the heavy oil obtained in the distillation of coal tar, and containing phenol, naphthalus, etc.
 Dead plate Mach., a solid covering over a part of a fire grate, to prevent the entrance of air through that part.
 Dead pledge, a mortgage. See Mortgage.
 Dead point. Mach. See Dead center.
 Dead reckoning Naut., the method of determining the place of a ship from a record kept of the courses sailed as given by compass, and the distance made on each course as found by log, with allowance for leeway, etc., without the aid of celestial observations.
 Dead rise, the transverse upward curvature of a vessel's floor.
 Dead rising, an elliptical line drawn on the sheer plan to determine the sweep of the floorheads throughout the ship's length.
 Dead-Sea apple. See under Apple.
 Dead set. See under Set.
 Dead shot. (a) An unerring marksman. (b) A shot certain to be made.
 Dead smooth, the finest cut made; -- said of files.
 Dead wall Arch., a blank wall unbroken by windows or other openings.
 Dead water Naut., the eddy water closing in under a ship's stern when sailing.
 Dead weight. (a) A heavy or oppressive burden. --Dryden. (b) Shipping A ship's lading, when it consists of heavy goods; or, the heaviest part of a ship's cargo. (c) Railroad The weight of rolling stock, the live weight being the load. --Knight.
 Dead wind Naut., a wind directly ahead, or opposed to the ship's course.
 To be dead, to die. [Obs.]
    I deme thee, thou must algate be dead.   --Chaucer.
 Syn: -- Inanimate; deceased; extinct. See Lifeless.

From: WordNet (r) 2.0

 dead letter
      n 1: the state of something that has outlived its relevance [syn:
      2: mail that can neither be delivered nor returned [syn: dead