\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The White House Coronavirus Task Force noted in its Nov. 29 report that European nations have been able to quell the spread of the virus without shutting down schools. Jacob Carpenter, ExpressNews.com, "COVID spread remains minimal in Texas schools despite state surge," 7 Dec. 2020 The orders will be the same as the statewide ones Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week to try to quell the spread of the coronavirus that's overwhelming hospitals. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Bay Area to introduce strict stay-at-home orders," 4 Dec. 2020 On April 11, Hilco demolished a 378-foot smokestack on the property that caused a dust cloud to blanket the area as hundreds of Little Village residents sheltered at home to quell the spread of the novel coronavirus. Abdel Jimenez, chicagotribune.com, "Illinois AG secures $370K for community health in Little Village after smokestack demolition, but some say it’s not enough," 20 Nov. 2020 The Navajo Nation instituted a series of lockdowns and curfews to quell the spread, The Hill reported, which appeared to help control the disease’s transmission. Colleen Stinchcombe, SELF, "How the Navajo Nation Is Handling Its ‘Uncontrolled' Coronavirus Spread," 12 Nov. 2020 Esper’s relationship with Trump soured after the Pentagon chief resisted Trump’s inclination to use active-duty forces to quell protests in U.S. cities earlier this year. Justin Sink, Fortune, "Trump fires defense secretary, hinting at post-election purge," 9 Nov. 2020 The governor urged local officials to clamp down on health safety enforcement in their communities to quell the spread of the virus, which has been brought largely under control in a city that was once considered the pandemic's epicenter. Vandana Rambaran, Fox News, "NYC's rising coronavirus infections prompt new fine, school-closure threat," 29 Sep. 2020 This launcher is all for fun, of course, but research does show masks can help quell the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, "Watch This Guy Shoot Masks Onto People's Faces With His Homemade Launcher," 18 Aug. 2020 Yet other countries with the same information — or alleged misinformation — as the U.S. had at the time took earlier, decisive steps to quell the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Isaac Sebenius, STAT, "How many needless Covid-19 deaths were caused by delays in responding? Most of them," 19 June 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about quell

Time Traveler for quell

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for quell

Last Updated

20 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Quell.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/quell. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Slippery Words Quiz—Changing with the Times

  • ducreux self portrait yawning
  • What is an earlier meaning of nice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!