noun, plural coun·sel for 3.

verb (used with object), coun·seled, coun·sel·ing or (especially British) coun·selled, coun·sel·ling.

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), coun·seled, coun·sel·ing or (especially British) coun·selled, coun·sel·ling.

to give counsel or advice.
to get or take counsel or advice.

Nearby words

  1. councilman body,
  2. councilmember,
  3. councilor,
  4. councilperson,
  5. councilwoman,
  6. counselee,
  7. counseling,
  8. counselling,
  9. counsellor,
  10. counselor


    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
Can be confusedconsul council counsel (see usage note at council)

Synonym study

1. See advice.

Usage note

See council. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for counsel

British Dictionary definitions for counsel



advice or guidance on conduct, behaviour, etc
discussion, esp on future procedure; consultationto 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 matterscounsel 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 or -selled or US -sels, -seling or -seled

(tr) to give advice or guidance to
(tr; often takes a clause as object) to recommend the acceptance of (a plan, idea, etc); urge
(intr) archaic to take counsel; consult
Derived Formscounsellable or US counselable, adjective

Word Origin for counsel

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


Avoid confusion with council

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

Word Origin and History for counsel
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.