Amazon says my package is "delivered". Is this correct English, if the package was not brought to my address yet?

When I google deliver, it is defined as:

bring and hand over (a letter, parcel, or ordered goods) to the proper recipient or address.

However, on Amazon's website, they use a different definition (I have added italics for emphasis):

packages may say delivered up to 48 hours before arrival.

This latter definition seems to imply that a package can be delivered but has not arrived. How can this be the case? According to Google's definition, the package was handed over or brought to the proper address. So has it not also arrived there?

Am I missing some nuance about the word delivered, or is Amazon bending the language? In what way does Amazon's use of delivered help the purpose of clear communication?

Update. Well, it turns out, in this case, that the package was actually delivered -- and arrived -- on time, and I had simply lost it. So the delivered vs. arrived question feels a bit more hypothetical now, and I certainly feel embarrassed. Nonetheless, they do have that sentence on their website, so maybe it could have been an issue for someone.

  • We can't answer for a vendor's invented meanings to suit their purposes, but delivered means I handed it to you, yes. They could mean that they're done when they drop it off at your gated community, even though you don't have the package in hand. How could they do more? Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:27
  • @Yosef Yes -- If, hypothetically, I were in a gated community, then any delays introduced by the gated community would be under control of the gated community, not Amazon. However, this 48 hour delay is something that Amazon -- not a gated community -- is specifying in this case. It is a policy that they are uniformly and globally applying to all communities. And a policy that other shipping carriers do not have. Therefore the difference between delivery and arrival must be something that Amazon has control over, but I am struggling with this language usage. Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:36
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    Amazon may have redefined the retail world but it cannot redefine meaning. From what you write here, Amazon is simply wrong. It would be interesting to test in a court of law the assertion that something is delivered before it arrives!
    – Anton
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:39
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    This is a confusing and broadened usage. It is seen in say cricket, when delivery (and the delivery step) occurs before the ball reaches the batsman: the despatching, rather than the reaching the recipient. It is probably justifiable semantically, but violates the Gricean maxim of manner (avoid potentially misleading interpretations). Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:50
  • This is just Amazon being stupid, and trying to escape accountability.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 22:04

1 Answer 1


There is no special meaning of “delivered” here; they’re warning you that their web site may be inaccurate by reporting the package has been delivered up to 48 hours before it actually is.

In the US, at least, one of their methods of delivery is called “SmartPost”, where they ship the package to your local post office, and then the post office delivers it to your home. Unfortunately, Amazon can only track the delivery to the post office; they can’t track what happens after that or, more importantly, when it happens. So, their web site can’t give accurate delivery times in that case and falls back to what data it does have.

  • This makes sense; although, if this is the case, I'm wondering why they didn't spell out this logic on their website. Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:40
  • @personal_cloud Amazon tries to insulate consumers from the ridiculous complexity of their shipping system, which varies greatly depending on exactly where you live.
    – StephenS
    Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:44
  • The key observation here is that they have one part of their website that says "package delivered", and another part that talks about "packages may say delivered". "May say" suggests possible inaccuracy. So if you happen to stumble on the second part, then it is revealed that the first part was in fact inaccurate. (It's just funny, because, if Amazon was aware of the inaccuracy, wouldn't their customer-obsessed approach be to simply correct the inaccuracy in the first place? But I digress.) Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 18:51
  • Update: I went to the automated customer service chat. It said "OK, looks like the delivery status may have been updated too soon. The good news is it should arrive soon. Give us until end of day". So this is the right answer -- the delivery status was indeed inaccurate. (And Amazon's computer seems to know it.... hmmmmmmmm...) Commented Mar 10, 2021 at 19:08

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