- Tell is defined as to communicate in words.
An example of to tell is to provide someone with information about a crime scene.
This woman tells a police officer what she knows.
transitive verbtold, telling
- to enumerate; count; reckon: to tell time
- to give an account of (a story, etc.) in speech or writing
- to express in words; utter; say: to tell the truth
- to report; announce; publish
- to reveal; disclose; make known: a smile that told her joy
- to recognize; distinguish; discriminate: unable to tell one from the other
- to decide; know: one can't tell what will happen
- to let know; inform; acquaint: tell me about the game
- to request; direct; order; command: tell him to leave
- to state emphatically to: it's there, I tell you
Origin of tellMiddle English tellen ; from Old English tellan, literally , to calculate, reckon ; from Germanic an unverified form taljan from source German zahl, number: see tale
- to give an account or description (of something)
- to give evidence or be an indication (of something)
- to carry tales; reveal secrets: to kiss and tell
- to produce a result; be effective; have a marked effect: efforts that are beginning to tell
- to count (persons, etc.) and separate them from the total number
- Informal to rebuke severely
- to have a marked, usually adverse, effect on
- Informal to inform against or gossip about
Origin of tellArabic tall, a mound
verbtold told , tell·ing, tells
- a. To communicate by speech or writing; express with words: She told him that the store was closed. Tell me the truth.b. To give a detailed account of; narrate: told what happened; told us a story.c. To notify (someone) of something; inform: He told us of his dream to sail around the world.d. To make known; disclose or reveal: tell a secret; tell fortunes.e. To inform (someone) positively; assure: I tell you, the plan will work.f. To give instructions to; direct: told the customers to wait in line.
- To discover by observation; discern: We could tell that he was upset.
- To name or number one by one; count: telling one's blessings; 16 windows, all told.
- To relate a story or give an account of an event: The sailor told of having been adrift for days.
- To reveal something that is not supposed to be revealed, especially something that someone has done wrong: She promised not to tell on her friend.
- To have an effect or impact: In this game every move tells.
Origin of tellMiddle English tellen, from Old English tellan; see del-2 in Indo-European roots.
Origin of tellArabic tall; see tll in Semitic roots.
(third-person singular simple present tells, present participle telling, simple past and past participle told)
- To count, reckon, or enumerate.
- All told, there were over a dozen. Can you tell time on a clock? He had untold wealth.
- To narrate.
- I want to tell a story; I want to tell you a story.
- To convey by speech; to say.
- Finally, someone told him the truth. He seems to like to tell lies.
- To instruct or inform.
- Please tell me how to do it.
- To order; to direct, to say to someone.
- Tell him to go away.
- (intransitive) To discern, notice, identify or distinguish.
- Can you tell whether those flowers are real or silk, from this distance? No, there's no way to tell.
- To reveal.
- Time will tell what became of him.
- (intransitive) To be revealed.
- (intransitive) To have an effect, especially a noticeable one; to be apparent, to be demonstrated.
- Sir Gerald was moving slower; his wounds were beginning to tell.
- (to instruct or inform): ask
- A reflexive, often habitual behavior, especially one occurring in a context that often features attempts at deception by persons under psychological stress (such as a poker game or police interrogation), that reveals information that the person exhibiting the behavior is attempting to withhold.
- That which is told; tale; account.
- (Internet) A private message to an individual in a chat room; a whisper.
From Middle English tellen (â€œto count, tellâ€), from Old English tellan (â€œto count, tellâ€), from Proto-Germanic *taljanÄ…, *talzijanÄ… (â€œto count, enumerateâ€), from Proto-Germanic *talÄ…, *talÇ (â€œnumber, countingâ€), from Proto-Indo-European *dol- (â€œcalculation, fraudâ€). Cognate with English tally (â€œto countâ€), West Frisian telle (â€œto countâ€), West Frisian fertelle (â€œto tell, narrateâ€), Dutch tellen (â€œto countâ€), Low German tellen (â€œto countâ€) and fÃ¶rtellen (â€œto tell, narrateâ€), Old High German zellen (German zÃ¤hlen, â€œto countâ€), German erzÃ¤hlen (â€œto tell, recountâ€), Old Norse telja (Faroese telja, â€œto count, tellâ€). More at tale.
- (archaeology) A mound, originally in the Middle East, over or consisting of the ruins of ancient settlements.