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spell out

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verb (tr, adverb)

to make clear, distinct, or explicit; clarify in detaillet me spell out the implications
to read laboriously or with difficulty, working out each word letter by letter
to discern by study; puzzle out

QUIZZES

QUIZ YOURSELF ON “THEIR,” “THERE,” AND “THEY’RE”

Are you aware how often people swap around “their,” “there,” and “they’re”? Prove you have more than a fair grasp over these commonly confused words.
Question 1 of 7
Which one of these commonly confused words can act as an adverb or a pronoun?
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

Example sentences from the Web for spell out

Idioms and Phrases with spell out

spell out

1

Make plain, clarify, as in We asked her to spell out her objectives. [c. 1940]

2

Read slowly and laboriously, as in He was only six but he managed to spell out the instructions. [Early 1800s]

3

Puzzle out, manage to understand with some effort, as in It took years before anyone could spell out the inscriptions on the Rosetta Stone. [Late 1600s] All three usages transfer spell in the sense of “proceed letter by letter.”

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