The OALD has the following example:

Write to him care of his lawyer.

The explanation given for care of somebody (or in care of somebody) is that it is used when writing to somebody at another person's address. In the example sentence, who is somebody, and who is another person?

2 Answers 2


"Care of" (usually written "c/o") is a shortened form of "in the care of". That is, the person named is to have the letter "in his care" until he can deliver it to the intended recipient.

When the person spoken to is told to send a letter for X "(in) care of X's lawyer", that means the letter is to be mailed to the lawyer and the lawyer will see that X receives it.

There's a mournful American folk song, Down in the Valley, one verse of which runs:

Write me a letter
Send it by mail
Send it in care of
Birmingham jail

The prisoner cannot receive communications directly; letters must be sent to the prison authorities, to be passed on to him.

  • 2
    So, the letter is for him, but sent to the address of his lawyer, who will give him the letter. It's funny that in Italian we write "c/o" in letters, but we read that as presso ("at"). I thought it was a Latin abbreviation.
    – apaderno
    Apr 13, 2013 at 23:33

This may be correct, though I would probably say in care of

Write to him in care of his lawyer.

him is the person being written to.

in care of means to send what is written to his lawyer (the intermediary). The lawyer will then contact him.

The statement is asking someone to write a letter addressed to him, but to send it to the lawyer instead.

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