verb (used with object), sold, sell·ing.
verb (used without object), sold, sell·ing.
- to dispose of entirely by selling.
- to betray (an associate, one's country, a cause, etc.); turn traitor: He committed suicide rather than sell out to the enemy.
Origin of sell1
Synonyms for sell
Antonyms for sell
verb sells, selling or sold
- to convince someone else of one's potential or worth
- to give up one's moral or spiritual standards, etc
- informalto disparage or belittle
- financeto sell securities or goods without owning them in anticipation of buying them before delivery at a lower price
Word Origin for sell
Old English sellan "to give, furnish, supply, lend; surrender, give up; deliver to; promise," from Proto-Germanic *saljan "offer up, deliver" (cf. Old Norse selja "to hand over, deliver, sell;" Old Frisian sella, Old High German sellen "to give, hand over, sell;" Gothic saljan "to offer a sacrifice"), ultimately from PIE root *sel- (3) "to take, grasp."
Meaning "to give up for money" had emerged by c.1000, but in Chaucer selle still can mean "to give." Students of Old English learn early that the word that looks like sell usually means "give." An Old English word for "to sell" was bebycgan, from bycgan "to buy."
Slang meaning "to swindle" is from 1590s. The noun phrase hard sell is recorded from 1952. To sell one's soul is from c.1570. Sell-by date is from 1972. To sell like hot cakes is from 1839. Selling-point attested from 1959.
To sell (someone) down the river is first recorded 1927, but probably from or with recollection of slavery days, on notion of sale from the Upper South to the cotton plantations of the Deep South (attested in this literal sense since 1851).
Dispose of entirely by selling. For example, The rancher finally sold out to the oil company, or The tickets to the concert were sold out a month ago. [Late 1700s]
Betray one's cause or colleagues, as in He sold out to the other side. [Slang; late 1800s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with sell
- sell a bill of goods
- sell down the river
- sell like hot cakes
- sell off
- sell oneself
- sell out
- sell short
- sell someone on
- hard sell
- like hot cakes, sell