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1

spell

play
verb \ˈspel\

Definition of spell

spelled play \ˈspeld, ˈspelt\ spell·ing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to read slowly and with difficulty —often used with out

  3. 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>

  4. 3a (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 wayb :  to make up (a word) <what word do these letters spell>c :  write 1b <catnip is spelled as one word>

  5. 4 :  to add up to :  mean <crop failure was likely to spell stark famine — Stringfellow Barr>

  6. intransitive verb
  7. :  to form words with letters <teach children to spell>; also :  to spell words in a certain way <spells the way he speaks>



Origin of spell

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


First Known Use: 14th century

Rhymes with spell


2

spell

noun

Definition of spell

  1. 1a :  a spoken word or form of words held to have magic powerb :  a state of enchantment

  2. 2 :  a strong compelling influence or attraction



Origin of spell

Middle English, talk, tale, from Old English; akin to Old High German spel talk, tale


First Known Use: 1579


3

spell

play
transitive verb \ˈspel\

Definition of spell

spelled play \ˈspeld\ spell·ing

  1. :  to put under a spell



Circa 1623

First Known Use of spell

circa 1623


4

spell

noun

Definition of spell

  1. 1a archaic :  a shift of workersb :  one's turn at work

  2. 2a :  a period spent in a job or occupationb chiefly Australian :  a period of rest from work, activity, or use

  3. 3a :  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. 4 :  a period of bodily or mental distress or disorder <a spell of coughing> <fainting spells>



Origin of spell

probably alteration of Middle English spale substitute, from Old English spala


First Known Use: 1593


5

spell

verb

Definition of spell

spelled play \ˈspeld\ spell·ing

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to take the place of for a time :  relieve <we spell each other every two hours>

  3. 2 :  rest

  4. intransitive verb
  5. 1 :  to work in turns

  6. 2 chiefly Australian :  to rest from an activity for a time



Origin of spell

Middle English spelen, from Old English spelian; akin to Old English spala substitute


First Known Use: 1595



SPELL Defined for Kids

1

spell

play
verb \ˈspel\

Definition of spell

spelledspell·ing

  1. 1 :  to name, write, or print in order the letters of a word

  2. 2 :  to make up the letters of <C-A-T spells the word “cat.”>

  3. 3 :  to have (such) a spelling <My name is Lynne spelled with an E.>

  4. 4 :  to amount to :  mean <Another drought would spell famine.>




2

spell

play
noun

Definition of spell

  1. 1 :  a spoken word or group of words believed to have magic power :  charm

  2. 2 :  a very strong influence <Their talking broke the music's spell.>




3

spell

play
noun

Definition of spell

  1. 1 :  a short period of time <Come and sit a spell.>

  2. 2 :  a stretch of a specified kind of weather <a dry spell> <a warm spell>

  3. 3 :  a period of bodily or mental distress or disorder <fainting spells>

  4. 4 :  a person's turn at work or duty

  5. 5 :  a period spent in a job or occupation <After a spell of teaching, she went back to sales.>




4

spell

play
verb

Definition of spell

spelledspelling

  1. :  to take the place of for a time :  relieve <spell a person at shoveling> <Grandma … took the paddle out of her hand. “I'll spell you, Wilma.” — Richard Peck, A Year Down Yonder>




Medical Dictionary

spell

play
noun \ˈspel\

Medical Definition of spell

  1. :  a period of bodily or mental distress or disorder <a spell of coughing> <fainting spells>





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