[ koun-suhl ]
See synonyms for: counselcounseledcounselingcounselled on

noun,plural coun·sel for 3.
  1. advice; opinion or instruction given in directing the judgment or conduct of another.

  2. interchange of opinions as to future procedure; consultation; deliberation.

  1. 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?

  2. deliberate purpose; plan; design.

  3. 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.

  4. Archaic. a private or secret opinion or purpose.

  5. Obsolete. wisdom; prudence.

verb (used with object),coun·seled, coun·sel·ing or (especially British) coun·selled, coun·sel·ling.
  1. to give advice to; advise.

  2. 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),coun·seled, coun·sel·ing or (especially British) coun·selled, coun·sel·ling.
  1. to give counsel or advice.

  2. to get or take counsel or advice.

Idioms about counsel

  1. keep one's own counsel, to conceal one's ideas or opinions; keep silent.

  2. take counsel, to ask for or exchange advice, ideas, or opinions; deliberate; consult.

Origin of counsel

First recorded in 1175–1225; Middle English noun counseil, from Anglo-French cunseil, Old French conseil, concile from Latin consilium “debate, advice, advisory body, plan,” equivalent to consil-, variant stem of consulere “to apply for advice” + -ium noun suffix; verb from Anglo-French cunseiler, Old French conseillier, from Late Latin consiliāre, derivative of consilium; see consult,-ium

synonym study For counsel

1. See advice.

confusables note For counsel

See council.

Other words for counsel

Other words from counsel

  • coun·sel·a·ble; especially British, coun·sel·la·ble, adjective
  • pre·coun·sel, noun, verb, pre·coun·seled, pre·coun·sel·ing or (especially British) pre·coun·selled, pre·coun·sel·ling.
  • re·coun·sel, verb (used with object), re·coun·seled, re·coun·sel·ing or (especially British) re·coun·selled, re·coun·sel·ling.
  • un·coun·seled, adjective
  • un·coun·selled, adjective
  • well-counseled, adjective
  • well-counselled, adjective

Words that may be confused with counsel

Words Nearby counsel Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use counsel in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for counsel


/ (ˈkaʊnsəl) /

  1. advice or guidance on conduct, behaviour, etc

  2. discussion, esp on future procedure; consultation: to take counsel with a friend

  1. a person whose advice or guidance is or has been sought

  2. a barrister or group of barristers engaged in conducting cases in court and advising on legal matters: counsel for the prosecution

  3. a policy or plan

  4. Christianity any of the counsels of perfection or evangelical counsels, namely poverty, chastity, and obedience

  5. counsel of perfection excellent but unrealizable advice

  6. private opinions or plans (esp in the phrase keep one's own counsel)

  7. archaic wisdom; prudence

verb-sels, -selling or -selled or US -sels, -seling or -seled
  1. (tr) to give advice or guidance to

  2. (tr; often takes a clause as object) to recommend the acceptance of (a plan, idea, etc); urge

  1. (intr) archaic to take counsel; consult

Origin of counsel

C13: from Old French counseil, from Latin consilium deliberating body; related to consul, consult

confusable For counsel

Avoid confusion with council

Derived forms of counsel

  • counsellable or US counselable, adjective

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

Other Idioms and Phrases with counsel


see keep one's own counsel.

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