\ 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 All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country. Sarah Lynch Baldwin, Audrey Mcnamara, CBS News, "Washington, D.C., locks down as inauguration events kick off," 17 Jan. 2021 Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. Barbara Ortutay, BostonGlobe.com, "Capitol violence sparks a social media reckoning with Trump," 7 Jan. 2021 Trump himself is expected to address his supporters near the White House and the National Guard has been activated to quell potential violence. Ledyard King, USA TODAY, "Congress live updates: Lawmakers to count Electoral College votes, affirming Biden's win in face of Republican challenges," 6 Jan. 2021 Ethiopia will hold a parliamentary election on June 5, the electoral board said Friday, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed seeks to quell political and ethnic violence in several regions. Washington Post, "World Digest: Dec. 25, 2020," 26 Dec. 2020 Jackson’s curfew, which went into effect at 8 p.m., initially did little to quell the escalating violence, now mostly centered around East 9th Street-Euclid Avenue area. Adam Ferrise, cleveland, "9 hours of violence: Peaceful protest on May 30 turned to chaos as police tried to keep up," 3 Dec. 2020 The Insurrection Act, a two-century-old law, enables a president to send in active-duty military troops to quell disturbances over the objections of governors. Jennifer Steinhauer And Helene Cooper, Star Tribune, "At Pentagon, fears grow Trump will pull military into election unrest," 25 Sep. 2020 Burbink held a news conference on Monday to discuss the shootings over the weekend and echoed the mayor's sentiments, saying more need to be involved to quell the violence. Mark Morales And Elizabeth Joseph, CNN, "More people were killed in Louisville this year than ever before in the city's history," 22 Sep. 2020 Lightfoot had asked Pritzker to send the Guard to help quell the violence amid unrest following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Stacy St. Clair, chicagotribune.com, "Four Chicago aldermen want to force special City Council meeting on looting, call for National Guard help," 19 Aug. 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

14 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Quell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quell. Accessed 16 Apr. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for quell

Nglish: Translation of quell for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of quell for Arabic Speakers

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