[ tel ]
/ tɛl /
verb (used with object), told, tell·ing.
to give an account or narrative of; narrate; relate (a story, tale, etc.): to tell the story of Lincoln's childhood.
to make known by speech or writing (a fact, news, information, etc.); communicate.
to announce or proclaim.
to utter (the truth, a lie, etc.).
to express in words (thoughts, feelings, etc.).
to reveal or divulge (something secret or private).
to say plainly or positively: I cannot tell just what was done.
to discern or recognize (a distant person or thing) so as to be able to identify or describe: Can you tell who that is over there?
to distinguish; discriminate; ascertain: You could hardly tell the difference between them.
to inform (a person) of something: He told me his name.
to assure emphatically: I won't, I tell you!
to bid, order, or command: Tell him to stop.
to mention one after another, as in enumerating; count or set one by one or in exact amount: to tell the cattle in a herd; All told there were 17 if we are correct.
verb (used without object), told, tell·ing.
to give an account or report: Tell me about your trip.
to give evidence or be an indication: The ruined temples told of an ancient culture, long since passed from existence.
to disclose something secret or private; inform; tattle: She knows who did it, but she won't tell.
to say positively; determine; predict: Who can tell?
to have force or effect; operate effectively: a contest in which every stroke tells.
to produce a marked or severe effect: The strain was telling on his health.
British Dialect. to talk or chat.
- 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.
tell on, to tattle on (someone).
Is It Tis Or ‘Tis?According to Google's Ngram Viewer, the contraction 'tis was a fan favorite in the early 1700s. At this time, it was likely used more often than it's.
tell it like it is, Informal. to tell the complete, unadulterated truth; be forthright: He may be crude but he tells it like it is.
Origin of tell1
before 900; Middle English tellen, Old English tellan to relate, count; cognate with Dutch tellen to reckon, count, Old Norse telja to count, say, Old High German zellēn; akin to tale
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for tell it like it is (1 of 3)
/ (tɛl) /
William, German name Wilhelm Tell. a legendary Swiss patriot, who, traditionally, lived in the early 14th century and was compelled by an Austrian governor to shoot an apple from his son's head with one shot of his crossbow. He did so without mishap
British Dictionary definitions for tell it like it is (2 of 3)
/ (tɛl) /
verb tells, telling or told
(when tr, may take a clause as object) to let know or notifyhe told me that he would go
(tr) to order or instruct (someone to do something)I told her to send the letter airmail
(when intr, usually foll by of) to give an account or narration (of something)she told me her troubles
(tr) to communicate by words; utterto tell the truth
(tr) to make known; discloseto tell fortunes
(intr often foll by of) to serve as an indicationher blush told of her embarrassment
(tr; used with can, etc; may take a clause as object) to comprehend, discover, or discernI can tell what is wrong
(tr; used with can, etc) to distinguish or discriminatehe couldn't tell chalk from cheese
(intr) to have or produce an impact, effect, or strainevery step told on his bruised feet
(intr sometimes foll by on) informal to reveal secrets or gossip (about)don't tell!; she told on him
(tr) to assureI tell you, I've had enough!
(tr) to count (votes)
(intr) dialect to talk or chatter
informal, mainly US to tell the truth no matter how unpleasant it is
tell the time to read the time from a clock
you're telling me slang I know that very well
Derived Formstellable, adjective
Word Origin for tell
Old English tellan; related to Old Saxon tellian, Old High German zellen to tell, count, Old Norse telja
British Dictionary definitions for tell it like it is (3 of 3)
/ (tɛl) /
a large mound resulting from the accumulation of rubbish on a long-settled site, esp one with mudbrick buildings, particularly in the Middle East
Word Origin for tell
C19: from Arabic tall
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 tell it like it is (1 of 2)
tell it like it is
Speak the truth, no matter how unpleasant. For example, We're obligated to tell it like it is to the stockholders. [Slang; second half of 1900s]
Idioms and Phrases with tell it like it is (2 of 2)
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.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.