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.
To name or write in order the letters of a word or words: I've never been able to spell very well. Phrasal Verbs: spell down
To defeat in a spelling bee. spell out
To make clear and explicit: asked him to spell out his objectives.
To name or write in order the letters that constitute (a word or part of a word): spelled out my name.
Origin of spell
Middle 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
To put (someone) under a spell; bewitch.
Origin of spell
Middle English discourse from
- Words or a formula supposed to have magical powers. [from 16th c.]
- He cast a spell to cure warts.
- A magical effect or influence induced by an incantation or formula. [from 16th c.]
- under a spell
Terms derived from spell
(noun, etymology 1)
(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").
- (dialectal) A splinter, usually of wood; a spelk.
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").