- to name, write, or otherwise give the letters, in order, of (a word, syllable, etc.): Did I spell your name right?
- (of letters) to form (a word, syllable, etc.): The letters spelled a rather rude word.
- to read letter by letter or with difficulty (often followed by out): She painfully spelled out the message.
- to discern or find, as if by reading or study (often followed by out).
- to signify; amount to: This delay spells disaster for us.
- to name, write, or give the letters of words, syllables, etc.: He spells poorly.
- to express words by letters, especially correctly.
- spell down, to outspell others in a spelling match.
- spell out,
- to explain something explicitly, so that the meaning is unmistakable: Must I spell it out for you?
- to write out in full or enumerate the letters of which a word is composed: The title “Ph.D.” is seldom spelled out.
Origin of spell1
SynonymsSee more synonyms for spell on Thesaurus.com
- a continuous course or period of work or other activity: to take a spell at the wheel.
- a turn of work so taken.
- a turn, bout, fit, or period of anything experienced or occurring: a spell of coughing.
- an indefinite interval or space of time: Come visit us for a spell.
- a period of weather of a specified kind: a hot spell.
- Australian. a rest period.
- Archaic. a person or set of persons taking a turn of work to relieve another.
- to take the place of for a time; relieve: Let me spell you at the wheel.
- Australian. to declare or give a rest period to.
- Australian. to have or take a rest period.
Origin of spell3
SynonymsSee more synonyms for spell on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for spelled
The 2013 bill introduced by Tillman spelled out much of what Mitchell wanted.At This Creepy Libertarian Charter School, Kids Must Swear ‘to Be Obedient to Those in Authority’
October 15, 2014
Franck has not, as they say, spelled out a mechanism by which this could happen.The Right Wing Screams for the Wambulance Over Gay Marriage Ruling
October 13, 2014
She spells out this argument, such as it is, such it can be spelled out here.Bill Maher Finds the Worst Congressman in America
Ana Marie Cox
October 8, 2014
My case, which is spelled out in detail here, looks back at what bedeviled Presidents as the glow of their return to office faded.How Iraq Became Obama’s War
July 6, 2014
The protestors have spelled out their demand: they want secession from Ukraine or at the very least a referendum.Pro-Russian Protestors in Ukraine Dream of Soviet Glory Days
April 8, 2014
Its name appears in the doomsday-book, where it is spelled Haordine.The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook
And joyous hail the homely sign That so had spelled a hope divine!
Rome had the same name in Ancient Times, except that it was spelled Roma.Introductory American History
Henry Eldridge Bourne
In all editions prior to 1852, 'Priestley' is spelled 'Priestly'.The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
One they spelled with and multiplied with and said the capitals with every day!The Very Small Person
Annie Hamilton Donnell
- to write or name in correct order the letters that comprise the conventionally accepted form of (a word or part of a word)
- (tr) (of letters) to go to make up the conventionally established form of (a word) when arranged correctlyd-o-g spells dog
- (tr) to indicate or signifysuch actions spell disaster for our cause
- a verbal formula considered as having magical force
- any influence that can control the mind or character; fascination
- a state induced by or as if by the pronouncing of a spell; tranceto break the spell
- under a spell held in or as if in a spell
- (tr) rare to place under a spell
- an indeterminate, usually short, period of timea spell of cold weather
- a period or tour of duty after which one person or group relieves another
- Scot, Australian and NZ a period or interval of rest
- (tr) to take over from (a person) for an interval of time; relieve temporarily
- spell a paddock NZ to give a field a rest period by letting it lie fallow
Word Origin and History for spelled
"name the letters of," Old English spellian "to tell, speak," infl. by Old French espeller "declare, spell," from Frankish *spellon "to tell;" both Old English and Frankish from Proto-Germanic *spellan (cf. Old High German spellon "to tell," Old Norse spjalla, Gothic spillon "to talk, tell"), from PIE *spel- "to say aloud, recite." Related: Spelled; spelling.
Meaning "write or say the letters of a word" is c.1400, from notion of "read letter by letter, read with difficulty" (c.1300). Spell out "explain step-by-step" is first recorded 1940, American English. Spelling bee is from 1878 (earlier simply spelling, 1860).
"incantation, charm," Old English spell "story, speech," from Proto-Germanic *spellan (cf. Old Norse spjall, Old High German spel, Gothic spill "report, discourse, tale;" German Beispiel "example;" see spell (v.1)). Meaning "set of words with magical powers, incantation, charm" first recorded 1570s.
The term 'spell' is generally used for magical procedures which cause harm, or force people to do something against their will -- unlike charms for healing, protection, etc. ["Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore"]
"work in place of (another)," Old English spelian "to take the place of," related to gespelia "substitute," of uncertain origin. Perhaps related to spilian "to play" (see spiel). Related: Spelled; spelling. The noun meaning "indefinite period of time" first recorded 1706.