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[koun-suh l] /ˈkaʊn səl/
noun, plural counsel for 3.
advice; opinion or instruction given in directing the judgment or conduct of another.
interchange of opinions as to future procedure; consultation; deliberation.
Law. (used with a singular or plural verb) the advocate or advocates engaged in the direction of a cause in court; a legal adviser or counselor:
Is counsel for the defense present?
deliberate purpose; plan; design.
Theology. one of the advisory declarations of Christ, considered by some Christians as not universally binding but as given for aid in attaining moral perfection.
Archaic. a private or secret opinion or purpose.
Obsolete. wisdom; prudence.
verb (used with object), counseled, counseling or (especially British) counselled, counselling.
to give advice to; advise.
to urge the adoption of, as a course of action; recommend (a plan, policy, etc.):
He counseled patience during the crisis.
verb (used without object), counseled, counseling or (especially British) counselled, counselling.
to give counsel or advice.
to get or take counsel or advice.
keep one's own counsel, to conceal one's ideas or opinions; keep silent.
take counsel, to ask for or exchange advice, ideas, or opinions; deliberate; consult.
Origin of counsel
1175-1225; (noun) Middle English counseil < Anglo-French cunseil, Old French conseil < Latin consilium “debate, advice, advisory body, plan,” equivalent to consil-, variant stem of consulere “to apply for advice” (see consult) + -ium -ium; (verb) < Anglo-French cunseiler (Old French conseillier) < Late Latin consiliāre, derivative of consilium
Related forms
counselable; especially British, counsellable, adjective
precounsel, noun, verb, precounseled, precounseling or (especially British) precounselled, precounselling.
recounsel, verb (used with object), recounseled, recounseling or (especially British) recounselled, recounselling.
uncounseled, adjective
uncounselled, adjective
well-counseled, adjective
well-counselled, adjective
Can be confused
consul, council, counsel (see usage note at council)
1. recommendation, suggestion. 3. lawyer, attorney; solicitor, barrister.
Synonym Study
1. See advice.
Usage note
See council. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for counselled
Historical Examples
  • "Wait till to-morrow morning, and by then you may have slept upon it," she counselled.

    Viviette William J. Locke
  • "You can't truly say you're out, dear," counselled Edna, in an undertone.

    The Mystery of Murray Davenport Robert Neilson Stephens
  • Meantime, he counselled the public to be not unduly alarmed.

    Ruggles of Red Gap Harry Leon Wilson
  • Mere prudence would have counselled the despatch of such information.

  • He told me how ably you have seconded him and counselled him where necessary.

    The Snare Rafael Sabatini
  • Mrs. Gosnold counselled her abruptly with unwonted brusqueness.

    Nobody Louis Joseph Vance
  • Mr. Dunn counselled this employment of the money, and I consented to it.

    Davenport Dunn, Volume 2 (of 2) Charles James Lever
  • You remember how he counselled me against that visit to the Rectory.

    One Of Them Charles James Lever
  • Lloyd himself favoured the idea, and counselled its adoption.

  • "Keep trying," counselled the referee, keeping pace with her.

    From Place to Place

    Irvin S. Cobb
British Dictionary definitions for counselled


advice or guidance on conduct, behaviour, etc
discussion, esp on future procedure; consultation: to take counsel with a friend
a person whose advice or guidance is or has been sought
a barrister or group of barristers engaged in conducting cases in court and advising on legal matters: counsel for the prosecution
a policy or plan
(Christianity) any of the counsels of perfection or evangelical counsels, namely poverty, chastity, and obedience
counsel of perfection, excellent but unrealizable advice
private opinions or plans (esp in the phrase keep one's own counsel)
(archaic) wisdom; prudence
verb -sels, -selling, -selled (US) -sels, -seling, -seled
(transitive) to give advice or guidance to
(transitive; often takes a clause as object) to recommend the acceptance of (a plan, idea, etc); urge
(intransitive) (archaic) to take counsel; consult
Derived Forms
counsellable, (US) counselable, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French counseil, from Latin consilium deliberating body; related to consul, consult
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for counselled



early 13c., from Old French counseil (10c.) "advice, counsel; deliberation, thought," from Latin consilium "plan, opinion" (see consultation). As a synonym for "lawyer," first attested late 14c.



late 13c., from Old French conseiller "to advise, counsel," from Latin consiliari, from consilium "plan, opinion" (see counsel (n.)). Related: Counseled. Counseling "giving professional advice on social or psychological problems" dates from 1940.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with counselled


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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