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noun [uncountable] trademark

an electronic system which allows users to design and print their own postage stamps


noun [countable]



'A new online postage purchasing system, called SmartStamp, will enable customers to create their own stamps on their computer – with or without an image of the Queen …'

The Guardian 15th January 2004

'Royal Mail has launched the "Smartstamp" – a stamp which can be printed from personal computers in homes and businesses throughout the country … Experience on the first day of use showed that Post Office counter staff had heard about Smartstamps but had not had much information … Operationally, sorting offices are apparently not sure what to do with Smartstamped mail.'

norvic-philatelics.co.uk March 2004

On 15th January 2004, Royal Mail unveiled the first digital postage stamp in the UK. For a fee of £4.99 a month or £49.99 a year, users can subscribe to the SmartStamp™ system, which will enable them to create stamps from the comfort of a home or office computer, print them on envelopes or labels, and pay for them on the Internet.

users can subscribe to the SmartStamp™ system, which will enable them to create stamps from a home or office computer

SmartStamp™ operates from a CD-ROM or directly online, and can be used at any time of day or night, for domestic or international mail. It is appealing both for its convenience (no more tiresome queuing in post offices or licking those nasty-tasting stamps!), and for the opportunity it offers small businesses and users at home to add a degree of individuality by creating their own designs or adding logos.

Although the term SmartStamp was initially released as a trademark, there is already evidence for countable use of the word Smartstamp (initial capital 'S' only) to refer to stamps/postage marks produced with the system, and a participle adjective Smartstamped as in Smartstamped mail/letters/post.

Background – SmartStamp

The term SmartStamp for referring to digital postage systems is, in fact, not a brand new coinage. A Californian company called E-stamp Corp. began piloting a postage software product named SmartStamp in 1998.

The use of the word smart evokes the idea of computer/electronic technology. This is a productive sense of the adjective smart, occurring in compounds and phrases like smart card, smart traffic lights, smart bombs/missiles, and gaining increasing coverage in published dictionaries during recent years. The term smart car is used for cars which have some artificial intelligence functionality, though Smart used as the name of the quirky little two-seater vehicles, is actually short for Swatch Mercedes Art.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

This article was first published on 23rd April 2004.

Open Dictionary


a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

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