reel

1 of 5

noun (1)

1
: a revolvable device on which something flexible is wound: such as
a
: a small windlass at the butt of a fishing rod for the line
b
chiefly British : a spool or bobbin for sewing thread
c
: a flanged spool for photographic film
especially : one for motion pictures
2
: a quantity of something wound on a reel

reel

2 of 5

verb (1)

reeled; reeling; reels

transitive verb

1
: to wind on or as if on a reel
2
: to draw by reeling a line
reel a fish in

intransitive verb

: to turn a reel
reelable adjective

reel

3 of 5

verb (2)

reeled; reeling; reels

intransitive verb

1
a
: to turn or move round and round
b
: to be in a whirl
2
: to behave in a violent disorderly manner
3
: to waver or fall back (as from a blow)
4
: to walk or move unsteadily

transitive verb

: to cause to reel

reel

4 of 5

noun (2)

: a reeling motion

reel

5 of 5

noun (3)

1
: a lively Scottish-Highland dance
also : the music for this dance
2

Keep scrolling for more

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Old English hrēol; akin to Old Norse hræll weaver's reed, Greek krekein to weave

Verb (2)

Middle English relen, probably from reel, noun

Noun (3)

probably from reel entry 4

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Verb (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun (2)

1572, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

circa 1585, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of reel was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near reel

Cite this Entry

“Reel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reel. Accessed 4 Oct. 2022.

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

Kids Definition

reel 1 of 4

noun

1
: a device that can be turned round and round to wind up something flexible
a fishing rod and reel
2
: a quantity of something wound on a reel
a reel of film

reel

2 of 4

verb

reeled; reeling
1
: to wind on a reel
2
: to pull by the use of a reel
I reeled in a fish.

reel

3 of 4

verb

reeled; reeling
1
: to whirl or spin around
2
: to be in a confused or dizzy state
Our heads were reeling with excitement.
3
: to fall back suddenly (as after being hit)
4
: to walk or move unsteadily : stagger

reel

4 of 4

noun

: a lively folk dance

More from Merriam-Webster on reel

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ