\ 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

The merits of decentralization were clear: As long as the movement had no leaders, the Hong Kong government and Beijing would have a harder time quelling it. Los Angeles Times, "Hong Kong protesters took their organizing principle from Bruce Lee. Now some are having second thoughts," 16 Aug. 2019 The Indian government has described its rollback of Kashmir’s autonomy as an effort to promote development and quell a separatist insurgency in the region, where Pakistan and India have long vied for control. Washington Post, "Kashmir’s new status could bring demographic change, drawing comparisons to the West Bank," 8 Aug. 2019 Paolo is known as one of the inventors of modern defending, his versatility allowed him to get forward to create chances and quell opposition attacks when necessary. SI.com, "Daniel Maldini: 6 Things to Know About the 3rd Generation Starlet," 25 July 2019 Promoting robotic surgery Some hospitals say warnings about the risks of letting hernias go untreated are appropriate, and these events educate the public, quell fears about robotic surgery and serve people who otherwise can’t or won’t see a doctor. NBC News, "Hospitals are offering free hernia screenings, but do patients need them?," 23 July 2019 Toyota expects the solar panels to improve cruising mode and fuel efficiency, perhaps quelling some range anxiety fears. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Toyota Is Testing a New Solar-Powered Prius," 8 July 2019 Their strategy is aimed at doing the bare minimum, quelling anger from the party’s base while not actually unearthing evidence of criminal activity. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "Do Democrats Really Want To See Trump’s Tax Returns?," 5 July 2019 Clubs Used The officers started swinging clubs, hitting at least one youth in the head and about 50 riot-equipped policemen rushed to the field to quell the disturbance. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'Oh dear, oh dear. The lads in blue are here': When Rolling Stones (and police) packed County Stadium," 19 June 2019 Some have credited the exchange with quelling the outbreak. John Keilman, chicagotribune.com, "Surgeon general, speaking from his family's experience, tells Chicago medical professionals that stigma is deepening opioid crisis," 7 June 2019

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

20 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for quell

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

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More Definitions for quell



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).


not constant or steady

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