Origin of spelling
- 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 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 on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for spelling
It features a young girl at a spelling bee who is asked to spell “Hagan.”In North Carolina, GOP Overreach May Be More Unpopular Than Obama
November 3, 2014
The current issue is also filled with dozens of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.It Was All a Dream: Drama, Bullshit, and the Rebirth of The Source Magazine
October 14, 2014
In an ad called “Spelling Bee,” a young child spells “Pryor” as “O-B-A-M-A,” to which the judge says, “Close enough.”Red State Democrats Ditch Obama
July 29, 2014
You might say that this is part of my side of the story… Please excuse my handwriting, punctuation, and spelling.Life as an Undocumented Immigrant
Jose Antonio Vargas
April 28, 2014
Just before Christmas a woman told media outlets she slept with McDermott during his marriage to Spelling.What Turns a Love Affair Into a Relationship That Actually Lasts?
January 14, 2014
The following changes in spelling were made, to update them.A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion
William Dobein James
Changes in spelling, use of capitals, punctuation and type are not recorded.Maid Marian
Thomas Love Peacock
They spell theirs differently; but I will not have theirs in any spelling.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
Look closely to the spelling of proper names and verify titles.Jennie Baxter, Journalist
Otherwise, spelling and punctuation are presented as in the original text.Washington's Masonic Correspondence
Julius F. Sachse
- the act or process of writing words by using the letters conventionally accepted for their formation; orthography
- the art or study of orthography
- the actual way in which a word is spelt
- the ability of a person to spellJohn's spelling is good
- 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 spelling
"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.
Idioms and Phrases with spelling
In addition to the idiom beginning with spell
- spell out
- cold snap (spell)
- under someone's spell