I. verb (spelled; spelling) Etymology: Middle English, to mean, signify, read by spelling out letters, from Anglo-French espeleir, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English spellian to relate, spell talk Date: 14th century transitive verb 1. to read slowly and with difficulty — often used with out 2. to find out by study ; come to understand — often used with out <
it requires some pains to spell out those decorations — F. J. Mather
3. a. (1) to name the letters of in order; also to write or print the letters of in order (2) to write or print the letters of in a particular way <
you can spell it either way
I spelled it wrong
b. to make up (a word) <
what word do these letters spell
c. write 1b <
catnip is spelled as one word
4. to add up to ; mean <
crop failure was likely to spell stark famine — Stringfellow Barr
intransitive verb to form words with letters <
teach children to spell
; also to spell words in a certain way <
spells the way he speaks
II. noun Etymology: Middle English, talk, tale, from Old English; akin to Old High German spel talk, tale Date: 1579 1. a. a spoken word or form of words held to have magic power b. a state of enchantment 2. a strong compelling influence or attraction III. transitive verb (spelled; spelling) Date: circa 1623 to put under a spell IV. noun Etymology: probably alteration of Middle English spale substitute, from Old English spala Date: 1593 1. a. archaic a shift of workers b. one's turn at work 2. a. a period spent in a job or occupation b. chiefly Australian a period of rest from work, activity, or use 3. a. an indeterminate period of time <
waited a spell before advancing
; also a continuous period of time <
did a spell in prison
b. a stretch of a specified type of weather 4. a period of bodily or mental distress or disorder <
a spell of coughing
fainting spells
V. verb (spelled; spelling) Etymology: Middle English spelen, from Old English spelian; akin to Old English spala substitute Date: 1595 transitive verb 1. to take the place of for a time ; relieve <
he and the other assistant…spelled each other — Mary McCarthy
2. rest intransitive verb 1. to work in turns 2. chiefly Australian to rest from work or activity for a time

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Spell — Spell, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Spelled}or {Spelt}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Spelling}.] [OE. spellen, spellien, tell, relate, AS. spellian, fr. spell a saying, tale; akin to MHG. spellen to relate, Goth. spill?n.e {Spell} a tale. In sense 4 and those… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spell — can be: *Spell (paranormal) * Spell (recipe) * The Spell , a novel * *Spell (band), a musical group consisting of Boyd Rice and Rose McDowall *The Spells, an American indie rock band of the late 1990s consisting of Carrie Brownstein and Mary… …   Wikipedia

  • spell — spell1 [spel] n. [ME < OE, a saying, tale, charm, akin to Goth spill, tale < ? IE base * (s)pel , to speak loudly] 1. a word, formula, or form of words thought to have some magic power; incantation 2. seemingly magical power or irresistible …   English World dictionary

  • spell — Ⅰ. spell [1] ► VERB (past and past part. spelled or chiefly Brit. spelt) 1) write or name the letters that form (a word) in correct sequence. 2) (of letters) make up or form (a word). 3) be a sign of; lead to: the plans would spell disaster. 4) …   English terms dictionary

  • Spell — Spell, n. 1. The relief of one person by another in any piece of work or watching; also, a turn at work which is carried on by one person or gang relieving another; as, a spell at the pumps; a spell at the masthead. [1913 Webster] A spell at the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • spell — n Spell, shift, tour, trick, turn, stint, bout, go can mean a limited period or amount of some activity that often follows a schedule. Spell is ordinarily used in reference to very heavy or trying work which must be interrupted by a period of… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • Spell — Spell, n.[AS. spell a saying, tale, speech; akin to OS. & OHG. spel, Icel. spjall,Goth. spill. Cf. {Gospel}, {Spell} to tell the letters of.] 1. A story; a tale. [Obs.] Hearken to my spell. Chaucer. [1913 Webster] 2. A stanza, verse, or phrase… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • spell — [n1] interval, period bit, bout, course, go, hitch, interlude, intermission, patch, relay, season, shift, space, stint, streak, stretch, term, time, tour, tour of duty, trick, turn, while; concepts 807,817,822 spell [n2] magical aura over an… …   New thesaurus

  • Spell — Spell, v. i. 1. To form words with letters, esp. with the proper letters, either orally or in writing. [1913 Webster] When what small knowledge was, in them did dwell, And he a god, who could but read or spell. Dryden. [1913 Webster] 2. To study… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spell — Spell, n. [OE. speld, AS. speld a spill to light a candle with; akin to D. speld a pin, OD. spelle, G. spalten to split, OHG. spaltan, MHG. spelte a splinter, Icel. spjald a square tablet, Goth. spilda a writing tablet. Cf. {Spill}splinter, roll… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Spell — Spell, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Spelled}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Spelling}.] [AS. spelian to supply another s place.] To supply the place of for a time; to take the turn of, at work; to relieve; as, to spell the helmsman. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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