verb (used with object), told, tell·ing.
verb (used without object), told, tell·ing.
- to separate from the whole and assign to a particular duty.
- Informal.to rebuke severely; scold: It was about time that someone told him off.
Origin of tell1
Synonyms for tell
Origin of tell2
Related Words for telldisclose, reveal, instruct, confess, mention, explain, express, state, order, inform, say, notify, report, announce, advise, summon, declare, speak, portray, recount
Examples from the Web for tell
Contemporary Examples of tell
As far as I can tell, this magazine spent as much time making fun of French politicians as it did of Muslims or Islam.Harry Shearer on The Dangerous Business of Satire
January 8, 2015
“Jeffrey wanted me to tell you that you looked so pretty,” the female voice said into my disbelieving ear.
They were going to tell their story, consequences be damned.
And I tell Ollie, just look at me, because they just pulled out the pistolas.The Story Behind Lee Marvin’s Liberty Valance Smile
January 3, 2015
But throughout the series so far, its style has also had a profound story of its own to tell.What Downton’s Fashion Really Means
January 2, 2015
Historical Examples of tell
Tell Mrs. Van Geist if she can't come down, I'll run up to her.
Did he tell you how to make a lovely asparagus short-cake or something?
"But I tell you she isn't right," insisted Percival, warmly.
Don't mind him, dad—I know all about it, I tell you—I'll explain later to you.
But she constantly recalls what that snobbish Bines was unfair enough to tell her.
verb tells, telling or told
Word Origin for tell
Word Origin for tell
Old English tellan "to reckon, calculate, consider, account," from Proto-Germanic *taljanan "to mention in order" (cf. Old Saxon tellian, Old Norse telja, Old Frisian tella "to count, tell," Dutch tellen "to count, reckon," Old Saxon talon "to count, reckon," Danish tale "to speak," Old High German zalon, German zählen "to count, reckon"), from root *talo (see tale). Meaning "to narrate, relate" is from c.1000; that of "to make known by speech or writing, announce" is from early 12c. Sense of "to reveal or disclose" is from c.1400; that of "to act as an informer, to 'peach' " is recorded from 1901. Meaning "to order (someone to do something)" is from 1590s. Original sense in teller and phrase to tell time. For sense evolution, cf. French conter "to count," raconter "to recount;" Italian contare, Spanish contar "to count, recount, narrate;" German zählen "to count," erzählen "to recount, narrate."
I tolde hyme so, & euer he seyde nay. [Thomas Hoccleve, "The Regiment of Princes," c.1412]
Telling "having effect or force" is from 1852.
"mound, hill," 1864, from Arabic tall, related to Hebrew tel "mount, hill, heap."
In addition to the idioms beginning with tell
- tell apart
- tell a thing or two
- tell it like it is
- tell it to the Marines
- tell me
- tell off
- tell on
- tell someone where to get off
- tell tales
- tell time
- do tell
- kiss and tell
- show and tell
- something tells me
- there's no telling
- thing or two, tell a
- time will tell
- which is which, tell
- you never can tell
- you're telling me
Also see undertold.