Definition of telegram in US English:



  • A message sent by telegraph and then delivered in written or printed form.

    • ‘Her job included sending telegrams about casualties to next of kin.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These telegrams were delivered by local boys who received a valued six pence.’
    • ‘No one with any sense ever supposed that telephone calls or telegrams or cables were private.’
    • ‘They were the days of letters, telexes, faxes and telegrams.’
    • ‘Over the next few weeks, throwing reserve to the winds, I cajoled interviews, sent telegrams, and wrote letters to every Indian historian of note.’
    • ‘First, a telegram or telex may be garbled as a result of a failure in operations.’
    • ‘These two take it upon themselves to deliver the dreaded yellow telegrams to the newly-widowed women living around them.’
    • ‘In the days before phones were commonplace, they relayed many messages and telegrams from family members overseas.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They had been writing so regularly - and often sending telegrams - that she knew almost to the day where the herd would be.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In 1955, three years after becoming monarch, she sent 105 birthday telegrams to centenarians.’
    • ‘Civil War commanders used telegrams to transmit messages instantly to each other over distances of a thousand or more miles.’
    • ‘In an era before long distance telephone, they had to send telegrams to Aberdeen with their questions.’
    • ‘The Queen has sent more than 280,000 telegrams to couples celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.’
    • ‘The whispery thin blue aerogrammes have gone the way of the telegram and the telex.’
    • ‘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
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Mid 19th century: from tele- ‘at a distance’ + -gram, on the pattern of telegraph.