Entries in Letter Writing (2)


i.e., to wit, e.g., in lieu

A letter to a lawyer as dictated by Groucho Marx:

Now then. In re yours of the fifth inst., yours to hand, and beg to rep, brackets, that we have gone over the ground carefully and we seem to believe, i.e., to wit, e.g., in lieu, that, despite all our precautionary measures which have been involved, we seem to believe that it is hardly necessary for us to proceed unless we receive an ipso facto that is not negligible at this moment, quotes, unquotes and quotes.

Hoping this finds you, I beg to remain...as of June 9, cordially yours.


Note: This is the first known use of quotes, unquotes.......

Another letter to a lawyer as dictated by Groucho Marx:

Honorable Charles D. Hungerdunger
c/o Hungerdunger, Hungerdunger & McCormick


In re yours of the 5th inst, yours to hand and in reply, I wish to state that the judiciary expenditures of this year, i.e., has not exceeded the fiscal year—brackets—this procedure is problematic and with nullifcation will give us a subsidiary indictment and priority. Quotes unquotes and quotes.

Hoping this finds you, I beg to remain as of June 9th, Cordially, Respectfully,



  1. Armstrong, S. V., & Terrell, T. P. (2003). Thinking Like a Writer: A Lawyer's Guide to Writing and Editing (2nd edition.). Practising Law Institute.

Origins of the phrase "Gentlemen: Yours to hand, and, In reply......."

In this context Yours means your letter, i.e., the letter you sent.

to hand means: within reach, accessible, at hand.
at hand means: within easy reach; near; close by

So the meaning would be:

  • "I have received your letter and in reply to it..." ; or
  • "I have your letter right here beside me (to hand, at hand), and in reply. . ."; or
  • "I have your letter in hand, and I'm replying."

Thanks to Peter Duncanson, Pat Durkin, and Wayne Schiess for providing the explanation of this formal phrase.

If you have information about the origins of the phrase, please share them as comments. Thanks.