verb (used with object)

Verb Phrases

seal off,
  1. to close hermetically: to seal off a jar.
  2. to block (an entrance, area, etc.) completely so as to prevent escape or entrance: The police sealed off the area after the bomb threat was received.


    set one's seal to, to give one's approval to; authorize; endorse: Both families have set their seal to the marriage.

Origin of seal

1175–1225; (noun) Middle English seel, seil(e), seale mark on a document, token < Old French seel (French sceau) < Late Latin *sigellum, Latin sigillum, diminutive of signum sign; replacing Middle English seil, Old English (in)segel seal < Late Latin, as above; (v.) sealen, seilen < Old French seeler, seieler, derivative of seel
Related formsseal·a·ble, adjectivere·seal·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedceiling sealing



noun, plural seals, (especially collectively for 1) seal.

any of numerous marine carnivores of the suborder Pinnipedia, including the eared or fur seals, as the sea lion, and the earless or hair seals, as the harbor seal.
the skin of such an animal.
leather made from this skin.
the fur of the fur seal; sealskin.
a fur used as a substitute for sealskin.
a dark, gray brown.

verb (used without object)

to hunt, kill, or capture seals.

Origin of seal

before 900; Middle English sele, Old English seolh; cognate with Old Norse selr
Related formsseal·like, adjective



verb (used with object) Falconry.




a member of the U.S. Navy’s special operations forces.

Origin of SEAL

se(a) a(ir) l(and) (team) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for seal

Contemporary Examples of seal

Historical Examples of seal

British Dictionary definitions for seal




a device impressed on a piece of wax, moist clay, etc, fixed to a letter, document, etc, as a mark of authentication
a stamp, ring, etc, engraved with a device to form such an impression
a substance, esp wax, so placed over an envelope, document, etc, that it must be broken before the object can be opened or used
any substance or device used to close or fasten tightly
a material, such as putty or cement, that is used to close an opening to prevent the passage of air, water, etc
a small amount of water contained in the trap of a drain to prevent the passage of foul smells
an agent or device for keeping something hidden or secret
anything that gives a pledge or confirmation
a decorative stamp often sold in aid of charity
Also called: seal of confession RC Church the obligation never to reveal anything said by a penitent in confession
set one's seal on or set one's seal to
  1. to mark with one's sign or seal
  2. to endorse

verb (tr)

to affix a seal to, as proof of authenticity
to stamp with or as if with a seal
to approve or authorize
(sometimes foll by up) to close or secure with or as if with a sealto seal one's lips; seal up a letter
(foll by off) to enclose (a place) with a fence, wall, etc
to decide irrevocably
Mormon Church to make (a marriage or adoption) perpetually binding
to subject (the outside of meat, etc) to fierce heat so as to retain the juices during cooking
to close tightly so as to render airtight or watertight
to paint (a porous material) with a nonporous coating
Australian and NZ to consolidate (a road surface) with bitumen, tar, etc
Derived Formssealable, adjective

Word Origin for seal

C13 seel, from Old French, from Latin sigillum little figure, from signum a sign




any pinniped mammal of the families Otariidae (eared seals) and Phocidae (earless seals) that are aquatic but come on shore to breedSee eared seal, earless seal Related adjectives: otarid, phocine
any earless seal (family Phocidae), esp the common or harbour seal or the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus)


(intr) to hunt for seals
Derived Formsseal-like, adjective

Word Origin for seal

Old English seolh; related to Old Norse selr, Old High German selah, Old Irish selige tortoise
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 seal

"design stamped on wax," especially one attached to a document as evidence of authenticity, c.1200, from Old French seel "seal on a letter" (Modern French sceau), from Vulgar Latin *sigellum (source of Italian suggello, Spanish sello; also Old Frisian and Middle High German sigel, German Siegel), from Latin sigillum "small picture, engraved figure, seal," diminutive of signum "mark, token" (see sign (n.)). An earlier borrowing directly from Latin is represented by Old English insigel. Technical use, "what prevents the escape of a gas or liquid" is from 1853.


fish-eating mammal with flippers, Old English seolh "seal," from Proto-Germanic *selkhaz (cf. Old Norse selr, Swedish sjöl, Danish sæl, Middle Low German sel, Middle Dutch seel, Old High German selah), of unknown origin, perhaps a borrowing from Finnic. Seal point "dark brown marking on a Siamese cat" is recorded from 1934, from the dark brown color of seal fur; cf. seal brown "rich, dark brown color," by 1875. Old English seolhbæð, literally "seal's bath," was an Anglo-Saxon kenning for "the sea."


"to fasten with (or as with) a seal," c.1200, from seal (n.1). Meaning "to place a seal on (a document)" is recorded from mid-14c.; hence "to conclude, ratify, render official" (late 15c.). Sense of "to close up with wax, lead, cement, etc." is attested from 1660s, from the notion of wax seals on envelopes. In reference to the actions of wood-coatings, 1940. Related: Sealed; sealing. Sealing-wax is attested from c.1300. To seal (one's) fate (1799) probably reflects the notion of a seal on an execution warrant.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

seal in Science



Any of various aquatic carnivorous mammals of the families Phocidae and Otariidae, having a sleek, torpedo-shaped body and limbs that are modified into paddlelike flippers. Seals live chiefly in the Northern Hemisphere and, like walruses, are pinnipeds.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with seal


In addition to the idioms beginning with seal

  • seal of approval
  • seal off
  • seal one's fate

also see:

  • lips are sealed
  • set one's seal on
  • signed, sealed and delivered
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.