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special delivery (countable and uncountable, plural special deliveries)

  1. (uncountable, sometimes hyphenated when used attributively) A kind of postal service in which, for an extra fee, letters and packages are delivered in a highly expedited manner by a special courier.
    • 1910, O. Henry, "Compliments of the Season", Strictly Business:
      The pick of the output of the French and German toymakers was rushed by special delivery to the mansion; but Rachel refused to be comforted.
    • 1919, Grace S. Richmond, "The Time of His Life" in The Brown Study:
      So, before he slept, he sent his sister a special-delivery letter knowing she would receive it in the morning.
    • 1922, Mary Roberts Rinehart, The Breaking Point, ch. 22:
      Then, as though he could hurry the trains East, he put a special delivery stamp on it.
  2. (countable) A particular posted letter or package which is delivered in this manner; a particular act of conveying such letters or packages to one or more recipients.
    • 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned, ch. 2:
      Late in the afternoon arrived a special delivery, mailed from some small New Jersey town.
    • 1972 Nov. 6, "People," Time:
      The post office arranged special deliveries every half-hour to handle the flood of greetings.
  3. (countable and uncountable, idiomatic, by extension, sometimes humorous) Something—whether desirable or undesirable—which is intentionally given to a specific individual or which an individual receives rapidly and unexpectedly; the personalized, direct quality of the transmission of such an item.
    • 1998, Lisa Scottoline, Rough Justice, →ISBN, p. 181:
      Special delivery for Mr. Graham,” said the uniformed sheriff. He grinned as he stepped aside. “Hi, honey,” said the woman standing there.
    • 2008, Jerry B. Jenkins and John Perrodin, Seclusion Point, →ISBN, p. 83:
      “He might be God's special delivery for us. The reward we've been waiting for.”
    • 2011, Brad Thor, Brad Thor Collectors' Edition #1, →ISBN, online edition:
      “I have a special delivery for you from the president,” Harvath continued. He lowered his weapon, took aim, and shot the finger of Fawcett's right hand.