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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.


or counselling

[koun-suh-ling] /ˈkaʊn sə lɪŋ/
noun, Psychology.
professional guidance in resolving personal conflicts and emotional problems.
Origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for counselling
Historical Examples
  • For you were capable, my dear Horace, of counselling statesmen.

    Dialogues of the Dead Lord Lyttelton
  • Carlo spoke a stern word in an undertone; counselling him to be gone.

    Vittoria, Complete George Meredith
  • But the dreadful thunder rolled through the night, for Zeus was counselling evil against them.

    Stories of the Old world Alfred John Church
  • And all the while the Lake Indians of the North were planning and counselling.

    The Conquest Eva Emery Dye
  • He responded to the request, counselling moderation and less bitterness in dealing with the situation before us.

  • Aye, but says Ludovico, you don't know what they are counselling about.

    The Mysteries of Udolpho Ann Radcliffe
  • I am now helping our 200 men off, encouraging and counselling them what I can.

  • And he gave him the couple of words, counselling him to leave the lands of old Barret as soon as possible.

    The Cabin Vicente Blasco Ibez
  • Come thou to this house with a gracious heart, come with counselling Zeus, and lend grace to my song.

    The Homeric Hymns Andrew Lang
  • The first strains of a waltz joined the lure of Judith's warm loveliness, whispering, counselling, commanding: "Take her."

    Judith of Blue Lake Ranch Jackson Gregory
British Dictionary definitions for counselling


guidance offered by social workers, doctors, etc, to help a person resolve social or personal problems


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 counselling



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.



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 counselling


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