[ sel ]
See synonyms for: sellsellingsoldsellable on

verb (used with object),sold, sell·ing.
  1. to transfer (goods) to or render (services) for another in exchange for money; dispose of to a purchaser for a price: He sold the car to me for $1000.

  2. to deal in; keep or offer for sale: He sells insurance. This store sells my favorite brand.

  1. to make a sale or offer for sale to: He'll sell me the car for $1000.

  2. to persuade or induce (someone) to buy something: The salesman sold me on a more expensive model than I wanted.

  3. to persuade or induce someone to buy (something): The clerk really sold the shoes to me by flattery.

  4. to make sales of: The hot record sold a million copies this month.

  5. to cause to be accepted, especially generally or widely: to sell an idea to the public.

  6. to cause or persuade to accept; convince: to sell the voters on a candidate.

  7. to accept a price for or make a profit of (something not a proper object for such action): to sell one's soul for political power.

  8. to force or exact a price for: The defenders of the fort sold their lives dearly.

  9. Informal. to cheat, betray, or hoax.

verb (used without object),sold, sell·ing.
  1. to engage in selling something: Investment advisors agree that it’s time to sell.

  2. to be sold; to draw sales: His album is selling well.The game sold poorly in Japan.

  1. to offer something for sale: I like this house—will they sell?

  2. to be employed to persuade or induce others to buy, as a salesperson or a clerk in a store: One sister is a cashier and the other sells.

  3. to have a specific price; be offered for sale at the price indicated (followed by at or for): Eggs used to sell at sixty cents a dozen. This shirt sells for thirty dollars.

  4. to be in demand by buyers: On a rainy day, umbrellas really sell.

  5. to win acceptance, approval, or adoption: Here's an idea that'll sell.

  1. an act or method of selling: Your home could be a profitable sell.

  2. Stock Exchange. a security to be sold.

  1. Informal. a cheat; hoax.

Verb Phrases
  1. sell off, to sell, especially at reduced prices, in order to get rid of: The city is selling off a large number of small lots at public auction.

  2. sell out,

    • to dispose of entirely by selling: They sold out of Johnny's brownies before the bake sale was half over.

    • to betray (an associate, one's country, one’s principles, a cause, etc.): He would never sell out to the enemy.

  1. sell up, British. to sell out: She was forced to sell up her entire stock of crystal.

Idioms about sell

  1. sell someone a bill of goods, Informal. bill of goods (def. 3).

  2. sell short. short (def. 50).

Origin of sell

First recorded before 900; Middle English sellen, Old English sellan, originally, “to give,” hence, “to give up (someone) to an enemy, betray, exchange for money”; cognate with Old Norse selja, Low German sellen, Gothic saljan “to give up, sell,” originally, “to cause to take”; akin to Greek heleîn “to take, grasp”

synonym study For sell

1. See trade.

Other words for sell

Opposites for sell

Other words from sell

  • sell·a·ble, adjective

Other definitions for sell (2 of 2)

[ sel ]

noun, adjective, pronounScot. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use sell in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sell


/ (sɛl) /

verbsells, selling or sold
  1. to dispose of or transfer or be disposed of or transferred to a purchaser in exchange for money or other consideration; put or be on sale

  2. to deal in (objects, property, etc): he sells used cars for a living

  1. (tr) to give up or surrender for a price or reward: to sell one's honour

  2. to promote or facilitate the sale of (objects, property, etc): publicity sells many products

  3. to induce or gain acceptance of: to sell an idea

  4. (intr) to be in demand on the market: these dresses sell well in the spring

  5. (tr) informal to deceive or cheat

  6. (tr foll by on) to persuade to accept or approve (of): to sell a buyer on a purchase

  7. sell down the river informal to betray

  8. sell oneself

    • to convince someone else of one's potential or worth

    • to give up one's moral or spiritual standards, etc

  9. sell short

    • informal to disparage or belittle

    • finance to sell securities or goods without owning them in anticipation of buying them before delivery at a lower price

  1. the act or an instance of selling: Compare hard sell, soft sell

  2. informal

    • a trick, hoax, or deception

    • Irish a great disappointment: the service in the hotel was a sell

Origin of sell

Old English sellan to lend, deliver; related to Old Norse selja to sell, Gothic saljan to offer sacrifice, Old High German sellen to sell, Latin cōnsilium advice

Derived forms of sell

  • sellable, 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 sell


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

also see:

  • hard sell
  • like hot cakes, sell

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