tell off


told off; telling off; tells off

transitive verb

: reprimand, excoriate
told him off for his arrogance
: to number and set apart
especially : to assign to a special duty
told off a detail and put them to opening a trench J. F. Dobie

Examples of tell off in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Leonard Maltin, a staunch critic of the first movie, gets eaten by Gremlins followed by the little menaces taking over a theater before being told off by none other than Hulk Hogan. Chris Snellgrove,, 16 Oct. 2023 Smoking weed and telling off Catholic priests are just two of the ways Malu Rocha (Yara de Novaes) asserts her rebellious spirit. Carlos Aguilar, Variety, 27 Jan. 2024 One or two engaged with the protesters, only to be told off by an irate site manager. Katie Myers, WIRED, 20 Jan. 2024 After playing the aforementioned clip of Musk telling off advertisers, Oliver riffed on Musk’s outfit, which consisted of a black shirt and bomber jacket. Ellise Shafer, Variety, 18 Dec. 2023 The boat ride began with an angry Angela Deem telling off the men for taking her husband Michael Ilesanmi to the club via FaceTime. Kelly Wynne, Peoplemag, 24 Oct. 2023 Does Boebert vape near (and then tell off) pregnant women on all of her first dates? Tori Otten, The New Republic, 19 Sep. 2023 After being told off, a senior crew member from the riverboat hitched a ride to the dock and loosened the smaller boat’s mooring lines to slide it down the dock from its reserved spot. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 Aug. 2023 Gosling told off his critics during an interview with GQ magazine last month. Zack Sharf, Variety, 12 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tell off.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1727, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of tell off was in 1727

Dictionary Entries Near tell off

Cite this Entry

“Tell off.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

tell off

: scold entry 2 sense 2, reprimand
told him off for spreading rumors
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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