counsel

1 of 2

noun

coun·​sel ˈkau̇n(t)-səl How to pronounce counsel (audio)
1
a
: advice given especially as a result of consultation
He was unwise to reject my counsel.
b
: a policy or plan of action or behavior
2
3
a
archaic : purpose
b
: guarded thoughts or intentions
He was chary and given to keeping his own counsel.
4
a plural counsel
(1)
: a lawyer engaged in the trial or management of a case in court
(2)
: a lawyer appointed to advise and represent in legal matters an individual client or a corporate and especially a public body

counsel

2 of 2

verb

counseled or counselled; counseling or counselling ˈkau̇n(t)-s(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce counsel (audio) ; counsels

transitive verb

: advise
counselled them to avoid rash actions …George Orwell

intransitive verb

: consult
… I remember Englishmen, like the Colensos, who sat and counseled with us; but above all, I remember Coleridge-Taylor.W. E. B. Du Bois

Examples of counsel in a Sentence

Noun We seek counsel from the rich and powerful to learn their secret … Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly, 13 Feb. 2004
God had done a poor job, and Soaphead suspected that he himself could have done better. It was in fact a pity that the Maker had not sought his counsel. Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye, (1970) 1994
No matter how much time he is given, counsel would always like more, but the Chief Justice will not grant an extra minute unless the lawyer is responding to a question from the bench. Robert H. Bork, The Tempting Of America, 1990
Counsel were to be employed.  … And when the matter had been decided by the lawyers, Lord Fawn was to express his regret for having suspected his lady-love! Anthony Trollope, The Eustace Diamonds, 1871
You were unwise to reject my counsel. The student sought counsel from her teacher. She is serving as counsel for the defendant. All counsel are expected to obey the rules of the court. Verb He balked at authority and, according to Mr. Green, tuned you out if you tried to counsel him. David Grann, New Republic, 14 Feb. 2000
She had six children, whom she counseled and with great wisdom and patience. Erma Bombeck, The Best of Bombeck, (1965) 1967
I had counselled Catherine to dine upstairs, but as soon as he perceived her vacant seat he sent me to call her. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, 1847
He counsels people who are trying to quit drinking. concerned parents counseling about the problem of substance abuse in their community See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Akin Gump, led by Partner Dan Nash, has been the NFL’s chief labor and employment counsel for decades. Chris Deubert, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 Additionally, the report affirmed police findings that Casolaro’s death was a suicide — and that there was no need for an independent counsel to look into the matter. Lynsey Eidell, Peoplemag, 29 Feb. 2024 Special counsel Robert Hur concluded Biden willfully took secret papers to his home in Wilmington and to offices elsewhere in Delaware and in Pennsylvania. TIME, 29 Feb. 2024 But before the appellate court judges could hear the case, Smith, the special counsel, asked the Supreme Court to leapfrog the appeals court and decide the immunity issue once and for all. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 28 Feb. 2024 Cantu also had argued ineffective assistance of counsel, pointing in part to his trial attorneys’ decision to not call a single witness during the guilt-innocence phase of his trial. Dakin Andone, CNN, 28 Feb. 2024 The special counsel made no mention of the election campaign or Trump’s status as the favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination. David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, 28 Feb. 2024 It was roundly criticized by John Dean, who served as White House counsel under President Richard Nixon. Brendan Rascius, Miami Herald, 27 Feb. 2024 Prosecutors have repeatedly accused Grossman’s lead attorney, Tony Buzbee, of trying to get in evidence barred before the trial began — often in testy exchanges with opposing counsel. Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times, 17 Feb. 2024
Verb
The mania to solve the complexities of life, or to untangle braided identities, is likely misplaced, the wise Sabi would probably counsel me. The New Yorker, 16 Feb. 2024 Finally, Chef Yves counsels all his students to embark on a long, arduous adventure after graduation. Simon Mainwaring, Forbes, 12 Feb. 2024 Since this crisis began, Hendrickson had counseled de-escalation. Elliot Ackerman, WIRED, 8 Feb. 2024 Do some research to find a therapist who has experience in counseling platonic friends. Harriette Cole, The Mercury News, 3 Feb. 2024 The women were counseled about the different methods of available birth control and informed about their effectiveness, risks, and benefits. Kayla Bartsch, National Review, 1 Feb. 2024 Law, 58, was arrested in Mississauga, Ont., on May 2, 2023, and has been charged with 28 counts of first-degree murder and abetting and counseling suicide in the deaths of 14 people, ages 16 to 36, in Canada. Samira Asma-Sadeque, Peoplemag, 1 Feb. 2024 The chief said the same officer who had earlier counseled the man, and had been in a cruiser following the ambulance to the hospital, fatally shot him. Peter Hermann, Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2024 Jessica Fern, a psychotherapist who counsels people in open relationships, said Winter’s account adds a new layer to the growing catalog of nonfiction about polyamory. Alexandra Alter, New York Times, 13 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'counsel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

Middle English conseil, from Anglo-French cunseil, from Latin consilium, from consulere to consult

First Known Use

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of counsel was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near counsel

Cite this Entry

“Counsel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/counsel. Accessed 3 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

counsel

1 of 2 noun
coun·​sel ˈkau̇n(t)-səl How to pronounce counsel (audio)
1
: advice given
2
: the act of deliberating or consulting
took counsel together
3
plural counsel : a lawyer who represents a person or group in a court of law

counsel

2 of 2 verb
counseled or counselled; counseling or counselling
-s(ə-)liŋ
1
: to give advice to
counsel a student on a choice of studies
2
: to seek advice : consult
counsel with friends

Medical Definition

counsel

1 of 2 noun
coun·​sel ˈkau̇n(t)-səl How to pronounce counsel (audio)
: advice given especially as a result of consultation

counsel

2 of 2 transitive verb
counseled or counselled; counseling or counselling -s(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce counsel (audio)
: to advise especially seriously and formally after consultation

Legal Definition

counsel

1 of 2 noun
coun·​sel ˈkau̇n-səl How to pronounce counsel (audio)
plural counsel
: lawyer: as
a
: a lawyer participating in the management or trial of a case in court
…to have the assistance of counsel for his defenseU.S. Constitution amend. VI
a right to counsel
b
: a lawyer appointed or engaged to advise or represent a client in legal matters (as negotiations or the drafting of documents) compare attorney

Note: A judge who has acted as counsel in a matter (as by advising an investigator) is disqualified from hearing the case.

counsel

2 of 2 transitive verb
counseled or counselled; counseling or counselling
: advise
Etymology

Noun

Old French conseil advice, from Latin consilium discussion, advice, council, from consulere to consult

More from Merriam-Webster on counsel

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