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spell

1
[ spel ]
/ spɛl /
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See synonyms for: spell / spelling / spelt on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object), spelled or spelt, spell·ing.

verb (used without object), spelled or spelt, spell·ing.

to name, write, or give the letters of words, syllables, etc.: He spells poorly.
to express words by letters, especially correctly.

Verb Phrases

spell down, to outspell others in a spelling match.
spell out,
  1. to explain something explicitly, so that the meaning is unmistakable: Must I spell it out for you?
  2. to write out in full or enumerate the letters of which a word is composed: The title “Ph.D.” is seldom spelled out.

QUIZZES

THINK YOU’VE GOT A HANDLE ON THIS US STATE NICKNAME QUIZ?

Did you ever collect all those state quarters? Put them to good use on this quiz about curious state monikers and the facts around them.
Question 1 of 8
Mississippi’s nickname comes from the magnificent trees that grow there. What is it?

Origin of spell

1
First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English spel(l)en “to mean, signify,” from Old French espeller, espelir, from Germanic; compare Old English spellian “to talk, converse, announce” (derivative of spell “magic charm”); akin to Old High German -spellōn, Old Norse spjall “saying, tale,” Gothic spillōn “to narrate”; see origin at spell2

OTHER WORDS FROM spell

spell·a·ble, adjectiveun·spell·a·ble, adjective

Definition for spell (2 of 3)

spell2
[ spel ]
/ spɛl /

noun

a word, phrase, or form of words supposed to have magic power; charm; incantation: The wizard cast a spell.
a state or period of enchantment: She was under a spell.
any dominating or irresistible influence; fascination: the spell of fine music.

Origin of spell

2
First recorded before 900; Middle English spel “story, tale, narrative,” Old English; cognate with Old High German spel, Old Norse spjall “saying, tale,” Gothic spill “fable, story”; see spell1, gospel

OTHER WORDS FROM spell

spellful, adjectivespell-like, adjective

Definition for spell (3 of 3)

spell3
[ spel ]
/ spɛl /

noun

verb (used with object)

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.

verb (used without object)

Australian. to have or take a rest period.

Origin of spell

3
First recorded in 1585–95; (verb) alteration of earlier spel(l)e “to stand in place of, relieve, spare,” Middle English spelen, Old English spelian; akin to Old English spelian “to stand in place of, represent”; spala, gespelia “a substitute”; the noun is derivative of the verb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for spell

British Dictionary definitions for spell (1 of 3)

spell1
/ (spɛl) /

verb spells, spelling, spelt or spelled

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
See also spell out

Derived forms of spell

spellable, adjective

Word Origin for spell

C13: from Old French espeller, of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse spialla to talk, Middle High German spellen

British Dictionary definitions for spell (2 of 3)

spell2
/ (spɛl) /

noun

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

verb

(tr) rare to place under a spell

Word Origin for spell

Old English spell speech; related to Old Norse spjall tale, Gothic spill, Old High German spel

British Dictionary definitions for spell (3 of 3)

spell3
/ (spɛl) /

noun

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

verb

(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 for spell

Old English spelian to take the place of, of obscure origin
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

Idioms and Phrases with spell

spell

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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