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'missive & letter' Options
srkdr68
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 6:18:36 AM
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Joined: 1/13/2011
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Location: India
The difference between ‘missive’ and ‘letter’?
thar
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 6:49:00 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
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Difference is Latin mettere - to send, and littera - letter. Seriously, that is the only difference. Letter - usage is much more common, more varied, and much more metaphorically useful, but a letter is something you write and a missive is a message you send.

see also Latin epistola, scriptum, nota, pagina, etc etc.

see how sneaky I have been here, got the derivation in first....
Joseph Glantz
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 7:11:56 AM
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Thanks thar. I got your missive but not your letter.
thar
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 7:20:03 AM

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yeah, those Lats were obviously a bit behind the times, not really having a word for posts on internet forums.

JJ is the closest thing we have to a Lat, so maybe they have come up with something in the past 1500 years....
richsap
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 7:34:41 AM
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I belive a missive is intended as strictly a one-way communication, i.e. it does not invite or require a response. "Get me some coffee" is a missive, as opposed to "Would you mind getting me some coffee?". A missive would usually come from a superior or higher ranking authority, whereas a letter or memo can come from anybody.
thar
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 7:54:33 AM

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Yes, sending a missive to your boss is a quick way to get fired, I think!
srkdr68
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 11:25:13 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/13/2011
Posts: 160
Neurons: 312
Location: India
Thank you thar,

The meaning given by my English professor:

'The word ‘missive’ comes from the Latin ‘missus’ meaning ‘to send’; missives are usually
sent to individuals. ‘Letter’, on the other hand, is a general term and it can be sent to
individuals, companies, organisations, etc. It may deal with business or private matters'.
learner
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 2:25:34 PM
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Joined: 4/7/2009
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I suppose its safe to use "letter" in all circumstances instead of "missive".
Jyrkkä Jätkä
Posted: Monday, February 7, 2011 5:20:01 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 9/21/2009
Posts: 43,131
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Location: Helsinki, Southern Finland Province, Finland
You can send letters to anyone but missives only to authorities, organisations and to persons in very formal matters. Both are letters but you probably never send a missive to your friend. Or you may send love letters but not love missives.
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