\ 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


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

Hoping to quell concerns, the company included a mic/camera disable button on both Portal devices, as well as a physical camera cover. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Facebook unveils smart displays, promises not to snoop on your video calls," 8 Oct. 2018 Government troops fired tear gas and shotgun pellets to quell the protests while authorities restricted movement in old quarters of the city. Fox News, "Clashes erupt around Kashmir after Indian troops kill man," 27 Sep. 2018 In response, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has offered to send federal assistance to quell the violence, as local police faced criticism for failing to tamp down the demonstrations and counterdemonstrations. Jen Kirby, Vox, "Far-right rallies in Germany descend into violence," 28 Aug. 2018 Authorities shut down Internet service for 48 hours to help quell the violence. Annie Gowen, Washington Post, "As rumors fuel mob lynchings in India, WhatsApp offers $50,000 grants to curb fake news," 4 July 2018 Police can only do so much to quell the violence as guns are easy to get and people are too quick to hate one another. Vic Ryckaert, Indianapolis Star, "As murders rise among Indianapolis youth, so too does the search for answers," 2 July 2018 Early this year in Honduras, protests following the re-election of President Juan Orlando Hernandez turned violent when police and troops used excessive force to quell protests, leaving 32 dead. Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News, "Central America's violence, turmoil keeps driving families to U.S. border," 20 June 2018 Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been criticized for his failure to quell the violence, which will be a key issue in the 2019 presidential elections. Casey Quackenbush, Time, "Armed Bandits Raid a Village in Northern Nigeria, Killing at Least 45 People," 7 May 2018 The Ohio National Guard was brought in to quell the violence. Jeff Suess, Cincinnati.com, "Our history: MLK’s words heard and felt in Cincinnati," 17 Jan. 2018

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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Statistics for quell

Last Updated

19 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for quell

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

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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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with quell

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quell

Spanish Central: Translation of quell

Nglish: Translation of quell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quell for Arabic Speakers

Comments on quell

What made you want to look up quell? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a flaw that causes the downfall of a hero

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