This drawing of a thorny edged cursive Dear from the narrative series If You Seek Danger ©2009 makes me think about the importance of this salutation. While it is unclear who this Dear is addressed to, its emphasis is clear because of its size. Dear seems like a word used primarily in writing, and more specifically in writing a letter. It is hard to imagine using it in everyday speech, without irony or sarcasm. Dear in front of your name on a form letter means nothing, maybe less than nothing. ( Dear Occupant...)
Dear handwritten in front of your name, written to you alone, means something.