- The definition of a spell is a word or words which are supposed to hold magical power, an influence that cannot be resisted, or a trance.
- An example of a spell is saying "abracadabra."
- An example of a spell is the charm of a prince on a princess in a fairytale.
- An example of a spell is a person with their eyes open, but unconscious.
- Spell is defined as saying each of the letters in a word.
An example of spell is a child telling his teacher the letters that make up a specific word.
- a word, formula, or form of words having some magic power; incantation
- seemingly magical power or irresistible influence; charm; fascination
- a trance
Origin of spellMiddle English from OE, a saying, tale, charm, akin to Gothic spill, tale from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Indo-European base an unverified form (s)pel-, to speak loudly
cast a spell on
- to put into, or as into, a trance
- to win the complete affection of
under a spell
transitive verbspelled or spelt, spell′ing
- to name, write, or signal the letters which make up (a word, syllable, etc.), esp. the right letters in the right order, together with any required hyphens, apostrophes, accents, etc.
- to make up, or form (a word, etc.): said of specified letters
- to signify; mean: hard work spelled success
Origin of spellMiddle English spellen from Old French espeller, to explain, relate from Frankish an unverified form spell?n, akin to spell
- to read letter by letter or with difficulty
- to make out, or discern, as if by close reading
- to explain exactly and in detail
transitive verbspelled, spell′ing
- Informal to serve or work in place of (another), esp. so as to give a period of rest to; relieve
- Chiefly Austral. to give a period of rest to
Origin of spellMiddle English spelien from Old English spelian, to substitute for, akin to spala, a substitute
- a turn of serving or working in place of another
- a period or turn of work, duty, etc.: a two-year spell as reporter
- a turn, period, or fit of something: a spell of brooding
- a period of a specified sort of weather: a cold spell
- Informal a period of time that is indefinite, short, or of a specified character
- Dial. a short distance
- Informal a period or fit of some illness, indisposition, etc.
- Chiefly Austral. a period of rest or relief from activity
verbspelled, or spelt spell·ing, spells
- To name or write in order the letters constituting (a word).
- To constitute the letters of (a word): These letters spell animal.
- To add up to; signify: Their unwise investment could spell financial ruin.
Origin of spellMiddle English spellen to read letter by letter from Old French espeller of Germanic origin
- a. A word or formula believed to have magic power.b. A bewitched state or trance: The sorcerer put the prince under a spell.
- A compelling attraction; charm or fascination: the spell of the theater.
transitive verbspelled, spell·ing, spells
Origin of spellMiddle English discourse from Old English
- A short, indefinite period of time.
- Informal A period of weather of a particular kind: a dry spell.
- a. One's turn at work.b. A period of work; a shift.
- Australian A period of rest.
- Informal A period of physical or mental disorder or distress: a dizzy spell.
- Informal A short distance.
verbspelled, spell·ing, spells
- To relieve (someone) from work temporarily by taking a turn.
- To allow (someone) to rest a while.
- To take turns working.
- Australian To rest for a time from an activity.
Origin of spellFrom Middle English spelen to spare from Old English spelian to represent, substitute for
(third-person singular simple present spells, present participle spelling, simple past and past participle spelled)
- To put under the influence of a spell; to affect by a spell; to bewitch; to fascinate; to charm.
From Old English spel, spellian, spelian, from Proto-Germanic *spellÄ…, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *spel- (“to tell"). Cognate with dialectal German Spill, spellen and Albanian fjalÃ« (“word").
(third-person singular simple present spells, present participle spelling, simple past and past participle spelled or spelt (mostly UK))
- (sometimes with “out") To write or say the letters that form a word or part of a word. [from 16th c.]
- (intransitive) To be able to write or say the letters that form words.
- I find it difficult to spell because I'm dyslexic.
- Of letters: to compose (a word). [from 19th c.]
- The letters “a", “n" and “d" spell “and".
- (figuratively) To indicate that (some event) will occur. [from 19th c.]
- This spells trouble.
- (figuratively, with “out") To clarify; to explain in detail. [from 20th c.]
- Please spell it out for me.
- To constitute; to measure.
From Old French espel(l)er (> Modern French Ã©peler), ultimately from Proto-Germanic *spel- (“to speak").
Origin uncertain; perhaps a form of speld.
(third-person singular simple present spells, present participle spelling, simple past and past participle spelled or spelt)
- To work in place of (someone).
- to spell the helmsman
- To rest (someone or something).
- They spelled the horses and rested in the shade of some trees near a brook.
- A shift (of work); a set of workers responsible for a specific turn of labour. [from 16th c.]
- A period of (work or other activity). [from 18th c.]
- An indefinite period of time (usually with some qualifying word). [from 18th c.]
- A period of rest; time off. [from 19th c.]
- (US) A period of illness, or sudden interval of bad spirits, disease etc. [from 19th c.]
- (cricket) An uninterrupted series of alternate overs bowled by a single bowler. [from 20th c.]
From Middle English spelen, from Old English spelian, akin to spala (“substitute").