- a small amount of water held by a trap to exclude foul gases from a sewer or the like.
- the depth of the part of the water that actually excludes the gases.
verb (used with object)
- to close hermetically: to seal off a jar.
- 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.
Origin of seal1
- to mark with one's sign or seal
- to endorse
Word Origin for seal
Word Origin 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.
In addition to the idioms beginning with seal
- seal of approval
- seal off
- seal one's fate
- lips are sealed
- set one's seal on
- signed, sealed and delivered