of or relating to a sale or sales: the selling price of oranges.
engaged in selling: two selling offices in New York.
readily salable; in strong demand (often used in combination): This is our fastest-selling model.

Nearby words

  1. seller's option,
  2. sellers,
  3. sellers screw thread,
  4. sellers' market,
  5. sellick's maneuver,
  6. selling climax,
  7. selling floor,
  8. selling point,
  9. selling race,
  10. selling short

Origin of selling

First recorded in 1765–75; sell1 + -ing2

Related formsnon·sell·ing, adjective



verb (used with object), sold, sell·ing.

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.
to deal in; keep or offer for sale: He sells insurance. This store sells my favorite brand.
to make a sale or offer for sale to: He'll sell me the car for $1000.
to persuade or induce (someone) to buy something: The salesman sold me on a more expensive model than I wanted.
to persuade or induce someone to buy (something): The clerk really sold the shoes to me by flattery.
to make sales of: The hot record sold a million copies this month.
to cause to be accepted, especially generally or widely: to sell an idea to the public.
to cause or persuade to accept; convince: to sell the voters on a candidate.
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.
to force or exact a price for: The defenders of the fort sold their lives dearly.
Informal. to cheat, betray, or hoax.

verb (used without object), sold, sell·ing.

to engage in selling something.
to be on sale.
to offer something for sale: I like this house—will they sell?
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.
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.
to be in demand by buyers: On a rainy day, umbrellas really sell.
to win acceptance, approval, or adoption: Here's an idea that'll sell.


an act or method of selling.
Stock Exchange. a security to be sold.
Informal. a cheat; hoax.

Verb Phrases

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.
sell out,
  1. to dispose of entirely by selling.
  2. to betray (an associate, one's country, a cause, etc.); turn traitor: He committed suicide rather than sell out to the enemy.
sell up, British. to sell out: She was forced to sell up her entire stock of crystal.

Origin of sell

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

Related formssell·a·ble, adjective

Synonym study

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

Examples from the Web for selling

British Dictionary definitions for selling


verb sells, selling or sold

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
to deal in (objects, property, etc)he sells used cars for a living
(tr) to give up or surrender for a price or rewardto sell one's honour
to promote or facilitate the sale of (objects, property, etc)publicity sells many products
to induce or gain acceptance ofto sell an idea
(intr) to be in demand on the marketthese dresses sell well in the spring
(tr) informal to deceive or cheat
(tr foll by on) to persuade to accept or approve (of)to sell a buyer on a purchase
sell down the river informal to betray
sell oneself
  1. to convince someone else of one's potential or worth
  2. to give up one's moral or spiritual standards, etc
sell short
  1. informalto disparage or belittle
  2. financeto sell securities or goods without owning them in anticipation of buying them before delivery at a lower price


the act or an instance of sellingCompare hard sell, soft sell
  1. a trick, hoax, or deception
  2. Irisha great disappointmentthe service in the hotel was a sell

Derived Formssellable, adjective

Word Origin for 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

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 selling


Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with selling


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.