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  1. a payment or fee exacted by the state, the local authorities, etc., for some right or privilege, as for passage along a road or over a bridge.
  2. the extent of loss, damage, suffering, etc., resulting from some action or calamity: The toll was 300 persons dead or missing.
  3. a tax, duty, or tribute, as for services or use of facilities.
  4. a payment made for a long-distance telephone call.
  5. (formerly, in England) the right to take such payment.
  6. a compensation for services, as for transportation or transmission.
  7. grain retained by a miller in payment for grinding.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to collect (something) as toll.
  2. to impose a tax or toll on (a person).
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verb (used without object)
  1. to collect toll; levy toll.
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Origin of toll1

before 1000; (noun) Middle English, Old English toll (cognate with Dutch tol, German Zoll, Old Norse tollr), assimilated variant of Old English toln < Late Latin tolōnēum, for telōnēum < Greek telōneîon tollhouse, akin to telṓnēs tax collector, télos tax; (v.) Middle English tollen, derivative of the noun


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verb (used with object) Also tole (for defs 5, 6).
  1. to cause (a large bell) to sound with single strokes slowly and regularly repeated, as for summoning a congregation to church, or especially for announcing a death.
  2. to sound or strike (a knell, the hour, etc.) by such strokes: In the distance Big Ben tolled five.
  3. to announce by this means; ring a knell for (a dying or dead person).
  4. to summon or dismiss by tolling.
  5. to lure or decoy (game) by arousing curiosity.
  6. to allure; entice: He tolls us on with fine promises.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to sound with single strokes slowly and regularly repeated, as a bell.
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  1. the act of tolling a bell.
  2. one of the strokes made in tolling a bell.
  3. the sound made.
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Origin of toll2

1175–1225; Middle English tollen to entice, lure, pull, hence probably to make (a bell) ring by pulling a rope; akin to Old English -tyllan, in fortyllan to attract, allure


verb (used with object) Law.
  1. to suspend or interrupt (as a statute of limitations).
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Origin of toll3

1425–75; late Middle English tollen to remove, legally annul < Anglo-French tolre, tol(l)er < Latin tollere to remove, take away
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for toll


  1. to ring or cause to ring slowly and recurrently
  2. (tr) to summon, warn, or announce by tolling
  3. US and Canadian to decoy (game, esp ducks)
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  1. the act or sound of tolling
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Word Origin

C15: perhaps related to Old English -tyllan, as in fortyllan to attract


    1. an amount of money levied, esp for the use of certain roads, bridges, etc, to cover the cost of maintenance
    2. (as modifier)toll road; toll bridge
  1. loss or damage incurred through an accident, disaster, etcthe war took its toll of the inhabitants
  2. Also called: tollage (formerly) the right to levy a toll
  3. Also called: toll charge NZ a charge for a telephone call beyond a free-dialling area
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Word Origin

Old English toln; related to Old Frisian tolene, Old High German zol toll, from Late Latin telōnium customs house, from Greek telónion, ultimately from telos tax
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

Word Origin and History for toll


"tax, fee," Old English toll, variant of toln, cognate with Old Norse tollr, Old Frisian tolen, Old High German zol, German Zoll, representing an early Germanic borrowing from Late Latin tolonium "custom house," from Latin telonium "tollhouse," from Greek teloneion "tollhouse," from telones "tax-collector," from telos "tax" (see tele-; for sense, cf. finance). Originally in a general sense of "payment exacted by an authority;" meaning "charge for right of passage along a road" is from late 15c.

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"to sound with single strokes," mid-15c., probably a special use of tollen "to draw, lure," early 13c. variant of Old English -tyllan in betyllan "to lure, decoy," and fortyllan "draw away, seduce," of obscure origin. The notion is perhaps of "luring" people to church with the sound of the bells, or of "drawing" on the bell rope. Related: Tolled; tolling.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with toll


see take its toll.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.