Definition of telegram in English:



  • A message sent by telegraph and then delivered in written or printed form, used in the UK only for international messages since 1981.

    • ‘The Queen has sent more than 280,000 telegrams to couples celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.’
    • ‘Most of the party's members have called, passed by or sent telegrams asking me to reconsider my decision, and I am grateful to them.’
    • ‘Her job included sending telegrams about casualties to next of kin.’
    • ‘He was a spoilt child and became an utterly self-obsessed adult - he used to lock himself in an upstairs room and send his wife telegrams demanding she deliver him a meal.’
    • ‘In an era before long distance telephone, they had to send telegrams to Aberdeen with their questions.’
    • ‘They had been writing so regularly - and often sending telegrams - that she knew almost to the day where the herd would be.’
    • ‘Even after Chamberlain became too sick to attend Cabinet Meetings, Churchill had the main telegrams sent to his home where Chamberlain continued to read them until he died.’
    • ‘The whispery thin blue aerogrammes have gone the way of the telegram and the telex.’
    • ‘The reality of his family's poverty finally leaves no option but for Frankie to work, but this time he finds a far better job delivering telegrams for the Post Office.’
    • ‘No one with any sense ever supposed that telephone calls or telegrams or cables were private.’
    • ‘In 1955, three years after becoming monarch, she sent 105 birthday telegrams to centenarians.’
    • ‘They were the days of letters, telexes, faxes and telegrams.’
    • ‘These two take it upon themselves to deliver the dreaded yellow telegrams to the newly-widowed women living around them.’
    • ‘Copies of the telegrams I sent as ambassador during this period were projected onto a large screen to allow the judge and jury to read them.’
    • ‘Civil War commanders used telegrams to transmit messages instantly to each other over distances of a thousand or more miles.’
    • ‘These telegrams were delivered by local boys who received a valued six pence.’
    • ‘In the days before phones were commonplace, they relayed many messages and telegrams from family members overseas.’
    • ‘First, a telegram or telex may be garbled as a result of a failure in operations.’
    • ‘Over the next few weeks, throwing reserve to the winds, I cajoled interviews, sent telegrams, and wrote letters to every Indian historian of note.’
    • ‘They busy themselves buying stamps, receiving drafting paper for telegrams and in sending joyful, affectionate or sorrowful contents of messages home or to their beloved friends.’
    telemessage, cable, cablegram, telex
    View synonyms


Mid 19th century: from tele- ‘at a distance’ + -gram, on the pattern of telegraph.