spell
Pronunciation
Noun

spell (plural spells)

  1. Words or a formula supposed to have magical powers. [from 16th c.]
    Synonyms: cantrip, incantation
    He cast a spell to cure warts.
  2. A magical effect or influence induced by an incantation or formula. [from 16th c.]
    Synonyms: cantrip
    under a spell
  3. (obsolete) Speech, discourse. [8th-15th c.]
Translations Translations
Verb

spell (spells, present participle spelling; past and past participle spelled)

  1. To put under the influence of a spell; to affect by a spell; to bewitch; to fascinate; to charm.
    • 1647, George Buck, The History and Life and Reigne of Richard III of England, London, Book 4, p. 116,
      […] although the Kings Jealousie was thus particular to her, his Affection was as general to others […] Above all, for a time he was much speld with Elianor Talbot […]
    • 1697, John Dryden (translator), Georgics, Book 3 in The Works of Virgil, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 109, lines 444-446,
      This, gather’d in the Planetary Hour,
      With noxious Weeds, and spell’d with Words of pow’r
      Dire Stepdames in the Magick Bowl infuse;
    • 1817, John Keats, “To a Friend who sent me some Roses” in Poems, London: C. & J. Ollier, p. 83,
      But when, O Wells! thy roses came to me
      My sense with their deliciousness was spell’d:
Translations
Verb

spell (spells, present participle spelling; past and past participle spelled)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To read (something) as though letter by letter; to peruse slowly or with effort. [from 14th c.]
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick:
      "He'll do," said Bildad, eyeing me, and then went on spelling away at his book in a mumbling tone quite audible.
  2. (transitive, sometimes with “out”) To write or say the letters that form a word or part of a word. [from 16th c.]
  3. (intransitive) To be able to write or say the letters that form words.
    I find it difficult to spell because I'm dyslexic.
  4. (transitive) Of letters: to compose (a word). [from 19th c.]
    The letters “a”, “n” and “d” spell “and”.
  5. (transitive, figuratively, with “out”) To clarify; to explain in detail. [from 20th c.]
    Please spell it out for me.
    • 2003, U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbel, Hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, ISBN 1422334120:
      When we get elected, for instance, we get one of these, and we are pretty much told what is in it, and it is our responsibility to read it and understand it, and if we do not, the Ethics Committee, we can call them any time of day and ask them to spell it out for us […]
  6. (transitive) To indicate that (some event) will occur. [from 19th c.]
    This spells trouble.
  7. To constitute; to measure.
    • the Saxon heptarchy, when seven kings put together did spell but one in effect
  8. (obsolete) To speak, to declaim. [9th-16th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, I.ii:
      O who can tell / The hidden power of herbes, and might of Magicke spell?
  9. (obsolete) To tell; to relate; to teach.
    • 1770, Thomas Warton, “Ode on the Approach of Summer” in A Collection of Poems in Four Volumes, London: G. Pearch, Volume 1, p. 278,
      As thro’ the caverns dim I wind,
      Might I that legend find,
      By fairies spelt in mystic rhymes,
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations Translations
Verb

spell (spells, present participle spelling; past and past participle spelled)

  1. (transitive) To work in place of (someone).
    to spell the helmsman
  2. (transitive) To rest (someone or something), to give someone or something a rest or break.
    They spelled the horses and rested in the shade of some trees near a brook.
  3. (intransitive, colloquial) To rest from work for a time.
Translations
Noun

spell (plural spells)

  1. A shift (of work); (rare) a set of workers responsible for a specific turn of labour. [from 16th c.]
  2. (informal) A definite period (of work or other activity). [from 18th c.]
  3. (colloquial) An indefinite period of time (usually with a qualifier); by extension, a relatively short distance. [from 18th c.]
  4. A period of rest; time off. [from 19th c.]
  5. (colloquial, US) A period of illness, or sudden interval of bad spirits, disease etc. [from 19th c.]
  6. (cricket) An uninterrupted series of alternate overs bowled by a single bowler. [from 20th c.]
Translations Translations
  • Spanish: berrinche, pataleta

Noun

spell (plural spells)

  1. (dialectal) A splinter, usually of wood; a spelk.
  2. The wooden bat in the game of trap ball, or knurr and spell.

Spell
Proper noun
  1. Surname



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