Definition of mail noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//meɪl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//meɪl//
    [uncountable] Email
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  1. 1  (British English also post) the official system used for sending and delivering letters, packages, etc. a mail service/train/van the Royal Mail Your cheque is in the mail. We do our business by mail. see also airmail, snail mail, voicemail Culturepostal servicesMost letters and packages posted in Britain are dealt with by the Royal Mail, which is part of the Royal Mail Group Ltd. and Parcelforce (also part of the Royal Mail Group Ltd.), which delivers larger packages. The Post Office manages the country's many post offices. In 2013, the Royal Mail was privatized(= sold by the government) and shares in it were traded on the Stock Exchange. As well as selling stamps, post offices take in letters and packages that are to be sent by special delivery. Post offices also sell vehicle licences and foreign currency. Small post offices are now often based in a newsagent's or other shop, rather than being in separate buildings. In recent years, many smaller post offices have been closed because they do not make a profit, though this often led to protests from local people.Mail is often called post in British English. When sending a letter, people can choose between two levels of service, first class or the cheaper second class. Normally, first-class mail is delivered the day after it is posted and second-class mail within two or three days. Every address in Britain includes a postcode of letters and numbers, for example OX1 2PX for an address in Oxford, that makes it possible to sort the post by machine. Letters are posted in red postboxes, also called letter boxes. Each has a sign giving times of collections. Postmen and women deliver mail each day direct to homes and businesses. They put the mail through a flap in the door, which is also called a letter box. In the country they travel round in red vans, but in towns and villages they often ride bicycles.The system that deals with mail in the US, the US Postal Service (USPS), is an independent part of the government. Its head is the Postmaster General. Mail carriers, sometimes called mailmen though many are women, deliver mail to homes and businesses once a day. Most homes have mailboxes (= small boxes where letters can be put) fixed outside, near the door. It is very uncommon for a house to have a letter box in the door for letters. People whose houses are a long way from the road have a special rural mailbox by the road. This has a flag which the mail carrier raises so that the people in the house can see when they have mail. To mail (= send) a letter, people leave it on top of their own mailbox or put it in one of the many blue mailboxes in cities and towns. Every address in the US includes an abbreviation for the name of the state and a ZIP code, which is used to help sort the mail. Post offices sell stamps and deal with mail that has to be insured. Most cities have one post office which stays open late. Americans complain about the Postal Service, but it usually does an efficient job at a reasonable price.In the US only Postal Service can deliver mail to letter boxes and the Service has a monopoly on first-class mail that is not urgent.In Britain the post office lost its monopoly on delivery of post in 2006. In both countries there are many companies who provide courier and messenger services for urgent mail. The largest of these include FedEx and DHL. In Britain private companies may also deliver mail to letter boxes.
  2. 2  (British English also post) letters, packages, etc. that are sent and delivered There isn't much mail today. I sat down to open the mail. Is there a letter from them in the mail? hate mail (= letters containing insults and threats) see also fan mail, junk mail, surface mail British/​Americanpost / mailNouns In British English the official system used for sending and delivering letters, parcels/​packages, etc. is usually called the post. In North American English it is usually called the mail:I’ll put an application form in the post/​mail for you today. Send your fee by post/​mail to this address. Mail is sometimes used in British English in such expressions asthe Royal Mail. Post occurs in North American English in such expressions asthe US Postal Service. In British English post is also used to mean the letters, parcels/​packages, etc. that are delivered to you. Mail is the usual word in North American English and is sometimes also used in British English:Was there any post/​mail this morning? I sat down to open my post/​mail.Verbs Compare:I’ll post the letter when I go out. (British English) and(North American English) I’ll mail the letter when I go out.Compounds Note these words: postman (British English), mailman/mail carrier (both North American English); postbox (British English), mailbox (North American English) Some compounds are used in both British English and North American English: post office, postcard, mail order.
  3. 3  messages that are sent or received on a computer Check regularly for new mail. see also electronic mail, email See related entries: Email
  4. 4used in the title of some newspapers the Mail on Sunday
  5. 5= chain mail a coat of mail
  6. Word OriginMiddle English (in the sense ‘travelling bag’): from Old French male ‘wallet’, of West Germanic origin. The sense “by post” dates from the mid 17th cent.Extra examples Has the mail come yet? He has received death threats and hate mail from angry fans. I throw away junk mail without reading it. I throw junk mail straight in the bin without reading it. If we want to send something to another department, we use the internal mail. Is there anything interesting in the mail? My reply is in the mail. Send it by first-class mail. She checked her mail before leaving the hotel. Some people let their assistants handle the mail. The mail carrier didn’t deliver the mail on Friday. The mail is collected twice a day. The postcode allows the mail to be sorted automatically. We got the Post Office to redirect our mail when we moved. We had our mail redirected when we moved out. direct mail advertising the strange piece of fan mail she’d received two days earlier Half a million tonnes of junk mail is generated every year in the UK. I sat down to open the mail. Is there a letter from them in the mail? She’s received a lot of hate mail for speaking out about it. There isn’t much mail today. You’ve got mail.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: mail