What is the antonym (opposite) of “email” to refer clearly to "traditional mail" and not to email?

  • 5
    These are not "opposites". Is a bus the opposite of a car? How do we refer to mail that is sent via the postal service and delivered by a human being?
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 13:18
  • 1
    You should state your context. Are you looking for an informal term or a formal term?
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 13:25
  • 2
    That's an alternative, not an antonym.
    – user3169
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 22:00

3 Answers 3


The Wikipedia entry for Mail has a few possible terms you could consider.

As an AmE speaker, I use the term postal mail to clarify that I'm speaking about physical letters and not electronic messages.


What about snail mail?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary

snail mail [informal humorous]

letters or messages that are not sent by email, but in the post

As pointed by Tᴚoɯɐuo, notice that this term is informal and mildly derogatory.

  • 1
    It should be pointed out that this is an informal, mildly derogatory term. A law firm, say, wouldn't ask you to send them a duly signed document "via snail mail".
    – TimR
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 13:21
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo You're right. I've updated my answer to highlight that point. Thanks!
    – RubioRic
    Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 13:38
  • 1
    A more formal term for snail mail is letter mail. Or just by mail or by letter. Commented Nov 20, 2018 at 14:57

While I agree with snail mail, an alternative when referring to large amounts of data is sneaker net. Rather than sending the data electronically, the data is copied to a disk or other medium and physically transported (presumably by someone wearing sneakers).

  • This is valid in a specific context, one which only a very small percentage of people will ever face. I don't think OP is talking about this, just traditional delivery of mail as compared with electronic delivery of mail.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 21, 2018 at 16:17

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