\ 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 Imposed under colonial-era emergency regulations that the government had invoked in hopes of quelling the months-long unrest, the ban instead inflamed public anger and prompted more clashes. Time Staff, Time, "Hong Kong Police Storm University Campus Occupied by Protesters as Courts Overturn Mask Ban," 18 Nov. 2019 The government is apparently seeing to silence protestors and quell unrest. Wired, "How the Iranian Government Shut Off the Internet," 17 Nov. 2019 Cameroon’s main backers have looked away, hoping Mr Biya’s government would quell the rebellion and get back to fighting jihadists in the Sahel. The Economist, "How to stop Cameroon collapsing into a full-fledged civil war," 7 Nov. 2019 After rebels seized Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city, Qaddafi pledged to quell the rebellion with indiscriminate force. Brian Stewart, National Review, "The Education of a Cynic," 5 Oct. 2019 In an emotional town hall event, Lam was grilled and chastised for 2 hours over her and the government’s failing to quell the unrest. Fortune, "Delisting China," 28 Sep. 2019 Ortega’s government has dismissed opponents as delinquents attempting a coup d’etat and wanted to quell unrest in Masaya before Thursday’s three-month anniversary of the start of protests across Nicaragua. Christopher Sherman, The Seattle Times, "Nicaraguan forces violently retake symbolic city," 17 July 2018 Dramatic solos by players across the orchestra were just some of the high points in a remarkably zesty, robust performance that never managed or tried to quell the composer’s abundant senses of humor or vitality. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra inspires gratitude with performances after Thanksgiving," 2 Dec. 2019 Golden State head coach Steve Kerr has tried to quell chatter about the lottery and keep the focus on day-to-day improvement, but his glass-half-full approach will mean little without some results. Connor Letourneau, SFChronicle.com, "Warriors face tough reality as they fall to Lakers for fifth straight loss," 13 Nov. 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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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

8 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Quell.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quelling. Accessed 19 January 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

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).


to insert between existing elements

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