Spell definition

spĕl
To add up to; signify.

Their unwise investment could spell financial ruin.

verb
15
2
A compelling attraction; charm or fascination.

The spell of the theater.

noun
12
3
To put (someone) under a spell; bewitch.
verb
9
2
To name or write in order the letters constituting (a word).
verb
10
5
A bewitched state or trance.

The sorcerer put the prince under a spell.

noun
6
2
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To constitute the letters of (a word).

These letters spell animal.

verb
1
1
To name or write in order the letters of a word or words.

I've never been able to spell very well.

verb
1
1
A word or formula believed to have magic power.
noun
1
1
A short, indefinite period of time.
noun
1
1
(informal) A period of weather of a particular kind.

A dry spell.

noun
1
1
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To relieve (someone) from work temporarily by taking a turn.
verb
1
1
To take turns working.
verb
1
1
A trance.
noun
1
1
To make up, or form (a word, etc.)
verb
1
1
(australian) A period of rest.
noun
0
1
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(informal) A period of physical or mental disorder or distress.

A dizzy spell.

noun
0
1
(informal) A short distance.
noun
0
1
One's turn at work.
noun
0
1
A period of work; a shift.
noun
0
1
To allow (someone) to rest a while.
verb
0
1
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(australian) To rest for a time from an activity.
verb
0
1
Seemingly magical power or irresistible influence; charm; fascination.
noun
0
1
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.
verb
0
1
To signify; mean.

Hard work spelled success.

verb
0
1
To spell a word, words, etc.; esp., to do so correctly.
verb
0
1
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(informal) To serve or work in place of (another), esp. so as to give a period of rest to; relieve.
verb
0
1
(chiefly austral.) To give a period of rest to.
verb
0
1
(chiefly austral.) To take a period of rest or relief.
verb
0
1
A turn of serving or working in place of another.
noun
0
1
A period or turn of work, duty, etc.

A two-year spell as reporter.

noun
0
1
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A turn, period, or fit of something.

A spell of brooding.

noun
0
1
A period of a specified sort of weather.

A cold spell.

noun
0
1
(informal) A period of time that is indefinite, short, or of a specified character.
noun
0
1
(dial.) A short distance.
noun
0
1
(informal) A period or fit of some illness, indisposition, etc.
noun
0
1
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(chiefly austral.) A period of rest or relief from activity.
noun
0
1
A short, indefinite period of time.
noun
0
1
Words or a formula supposed to have magical powers. [from 16th c.]

He cast a spell to cure warts.

noun
0
1
A magical effect or influence induced by an incantation or formula. [from 16th c.]

Under a spell.

noun
0
1
To put under the influence of a spell; to affect by a spell; to bewitch; to fascinate; to charm.
verb
0
1
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(sometimes with “out") To write or say the letters that form a word or part of a word. [from 16th c.]
verb
0
1
(intransitive) To be able to write or say the letters that form words.

I find it difficult to spell because I'm dyslexic.

verb
0
1
Of letters: to compose (a word). [from 19th c.]

The letters “a", “n" and “d" spell “and".

verb
0
1
(figuratively) To indicate that (some event) will occur. [from 19th c.]

This spells trouble.

verb
0
1
(figuratively, with “out") To clarify; to explain in detail. [from 20th c.]

Please spell it out for me.

verb
0
1
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verb
0
1
(dialectal) A splinter, usually of wood; a spelk.

noun
0
1
To work in place of (someone).

To spell the helmsman.

verb
0
1
To rest (someone or something).

They spelled the horses and rested in the shade of some trees near a brook.

verb
0
1
A shift (of work); a set of workers responsible for a specific turn of labour. [from 16th c.]
noun
0
1
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A period of (work or other activity). [from 18th c.]
noun
0
1
An indefinite period of time (usually with some qualifying word). [from 18th c.]
noun
0
1
A period of rest; time off. [from 19th c.]
noun
0
1
(US) A period of illness, or sudden interval of bad spirits, disease etc. [from 19th c.]
noun
0
1
(cricket) An uninterrupted series of alternate overs bowled by a single bowler. [from 20th c.]
noun
0
1
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.

verb
0
2
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.

noun
0
2
A word, formula, or form of words having some magic power; incantation.
noun
0
2
(informal) A period of physical or mental disorder or distress.

A dizzy spell.

noun
0
2
cast a spell on
  • to put into, or as into, a trance
  • to win the complete affection of
idiom
0
1
under a spell
  • held in a spell or trance; enchanted
idiom
0
1
spell out
  • to read letter by letter or with difficulty
  • to make out, or discern, as if by close reading
  • to explain exactly and in detail
idiom
0
1

Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
spell
Plural:
spells

Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

cast a spell on

Origin of spell

  • From Middle English spelen to spare from Old English spelian to represent, substitute for

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Middle English spellen to read letter by letter from Old French espeller of Germanic origin

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • Middle English discourse from Old English

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • 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 fjalë (“word").

    From Wiktionary

  • From Old French espel(l)er (> Modern French épeler), ultimately from Proto-Germanic *spel- (“to speak").

    From Wiktionary

  • From Middle English spelen, from Old English spelian, akin to spala (“substitute").

    From Wiktionary

  • Origin uncertain; perhaps a form of speld.

    From Wiktionary