A missive usually refers to the old-school style of hand-written communication on paper (remember that?), but these days you also might hear an email called a missive, too. No matter how you deliver it, a missive is a message.

The noun missive comes from the Latin word missus, meaning "to send." You may have heard the phrase, "fire off a missive," meaning a note, memo or dispatch that was written and sent with urgency and conveyed an important message. It might have been a missive sent from a commander to the troops, telling them of a change in the battle plan. Or, maybe it was an urgent love letter to the commander's wife back home, telling her to tie a yellow ribbon round the ole oak tree...

Definitions of missive

n a written message addressed to a person or organization

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business letter
a letter dealing with business
cover letter, covering letter
a letter sent along with other documents to provide additional information
crank letter
a hostile (usually anonymous) letter
encyclical, encyclical letter
a letter from the pope sent to all Roman Catholic bishops throughout the world
fan letter
a letter that is a piece of fan mail
personal letter
a letter dealing with personal affairs
form letter
a letter that is printed in multiple copies and mailed to a list of recipients
open letter
a letter of protest; addressed to one person but intended for the general public
chain letter
a letter that is sent successively to several people
a letter from a pastor to the congregation
round robin
a letter signed by a number of people
aerogram, aerogramme, air letter, airmail letter
a letter sent by air mail
a specially long, formal letter
dead letter, dead mail
mail that can neither be delivered nor returned
letter of intent
any letter expressing an intention to take (or forgo) some action
a request (spoken or written) to participate or be present or take part in something
billet, line, note, short letter
a short personal letter
billet doux, love letter
a personal letter to a loved one expressing affection
bidding, summons
a request to be present
a colloquial expression for invitation
investment letter
a letter of intent saying that a letter security is being bought for investment and not for resale; avoids need for SEC registration
Type of:
anything serving as a representation of a person's thinking by means of symbolic marks
text, textual matter
the words of something written