tell

1
[ tel ]
/ tɛl /

verb (used with object), told, tell·ing.

verb (used without object), told, tell·ing.

Verb Phrases

tell off,
  1. to separate from the whole and assign to a particular duty.
  2. Informal. to rebuke severely; scold: It was about time that someone told him off.
tell on, to tattle on (someone).

Idioms

    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 tell

1
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 off (1 of 4)

tell off


verb (tr, adverb)

informal to reprimand; scoldthey told me off for stealing apples
to count and dismisshe told off four more soldiers
Derived Formstelling off or telling-off, noun

British Dictionary definitions for tell off (2 of 4)

Tell

/ (tɛl) /

noun

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 off (3 of 4)

tell

1
/ (tɛl) /

verb tells, telling or told

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 off (4 of 4)

tell

2
/ (tɛl) /

noun

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 off (1 of 2)

tell off


Rebuke severely, reprimand, as in It's time someone told her off about her behavior. There is also a synonymous expression, tell someone where to get off, as in When he called back a third time, I told him where to get off. [Colloquial; early 1900s] Also see get off, def. 7.

Idioms and Phrases with tell off (2 of 2)

tell


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

also see:

  • 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.