\ ˈkwel How to pronounce quell (audio) \
quelled; quelling; quells

Definition of quell

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to thoroughly overwhelm and reduce to submission or passivity quell a riot
2 : quiet, pacify quell fears



Definition of quell (Entry 2 of 2)

1 obsolete : slaughter
2 archaic : the power of quelling

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Other Words from quell


queller noun

Examples of quell in a Sentence

Verb the National Guard was called in to help quell the late-night disturbances downtown the principal held up her hand to quell the students so they could hear the urgent announcement
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In an effort to quell concerns, the state issued new communication guidelines on April 27 that required facilities to share the number of cases and deaths with the personal representatives of residents, typically a family member. Tony Cook, Indianapolis Star, "As Indiana nursing home COVID-19 deaths climb to 584, state keeps locations secret," 11 May 2020 In an effort to quell the spread of the virus, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a ban on nonessential travel across the U.S. borders in late March. Vandana Rambaran, Fox News, "Indian man apprehended at US-Mexico border for illegal border crossing tests positive for coronavirus," 30 Apr. 2020 But given the current pandemic, another mayor in Hawaii welcomes the service cutback as helping in the effort to quell the spread of the coronavirus. Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, "Flights to these cities likely to be nixed as bailed-out airlines seek service cuts," 16 Apr. 2020 Despite his attempts to quell uncertainty, Newsom has not yet provided a timeline for when the state’s nearly 40 million people can expect to return to work — or move about freely. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. County reports 42 more coronavirus deaths, a new single-day high," 15 Apr. 2020 In an attempt to quell the bubbling desire for Stars hockey, The News will look back on the top five individual performances of the regular season, one that is potentially over due to the coronavirus pandemic. Matthew Defranks, Dallas News, "Stars’ Best of the Season: Alexander Radulov turns season around with hat trick vs. Wild," 27 Mar. 2020 When the disease spread to a white teenager outside the quarantine zone, officials began burning buildings in a desperate attempt to quell the disease. Bess Lovejoy, Smithsonian Magazine, "The Pioneering Health Officer Who Saved Portland From the Plague," 25 Mar. 2020 For now, efforts to stifle the spread of coronavirus (through business closures and quarantines, to name a few) are still overshadowing attempts to quell their impact, notes UBS Wealth Management's chief investment officer Mark Haefele. Anne Sraders, Fortune, "Markets continue to slide as Goldman releases sobering new earnings estimates," 23 Mar. 2020 Among the concessions to which the dictatorship agreed in a vain attempt to quell the unrest was the return of some of the exiles. Ariel Dorfman, The New York Review of Books, "Chile: Notes from a Revolt," 13 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'quell.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of quell


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for quell


Middle English, to kill, quell, from Old English cwellan to kill; akin to Old High German quellen to torture, kill, quāla torment, Lithuanian gelti to hurt


Middle English, from quellen to kill

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Time Traveler for quell

Time Traveler

The first known use of quell was in the 13th century

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Statistics for quell

Last Updated

27 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quell. Accessed 4 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for quell


How to pronounce quell (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of quell

: to end or stop (something) usually by using force
: to calm or reduce (something, such as fear or worry)


\ ˈkwel How to pronounce quell (audio) \
quelled; quelling

Kids Definition of quell

1 : to stop or end by force Police quelled a riot.
2 : quiet entry 4, calm He quelled their fears.

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More from Merriam-Webster on quell

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quell

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quell

Spanish Central: Translation of quell

Nglish: Translation of quell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quell for Arabic Speakers

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