The mail?? The post??

I just realized that November is the 4 year anniversary of when I began this blog. I don’t always blog consistently, but I plan to keep at it! Here is a post (slightly edited) that was originally on the blog in December 2017…

The mail? The post?

I recently told someone that I would send them an item by post. They did not know what this meant! “What is post?” Uh, by mail – the postal service. Then they felt a little dumb. haha.

But really, they should not have felt dumb about it. I tend to use the word post, and I recently realized this is more of a British or European term. Somewhere along the line I picked this up, even though I am American. Perhaps for several reasons: I had a great deal of Canadian influence in my youth. I appreciate certain classic British novels and movies. I’ve long had international pen friends (and international students live with me) that typically write and speak British English.

If you look up the word post in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, there are several definitions, but one is this: “chiefly British, a nation’s organization for handling mail.”

The online free dictionary similarly says for post:

1. Chiefly British
a. a single dispatch or delivery of mail.
b. the mail itself.
c. an established mail system or service.

I sometimes sign my letters “Your friend by post and pen.” You’ll note that this blog is called Postman’s Treasure, rather than Mailman’s Treasure.

However, I am a blend of American and British English when it comes to the post or mail, and may even be inconsistent with my word use. When it comes to my home mail box, I use the word mail. It is the mailbox, not postbox. Do you say that you will “post a letter” or “mail a letter”? Most Americans, in my experience, say mail. I also say mail a letter; somehow post a letter sounds strange to me!

In the U.S.A. we do call it the POST office. It is the USPS: the United States Postal Service. So why is it that we are more likely to use the word mail instead of post…we mail letters, check the mailbox, look for the mailman, and mail packages. Hmmm?

2 thoughts on “The mail?? The post??

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