tell off

told off; telling off; tells off

Definition of tell off

transitive verb

1 : reprimand, excoriate told him off for his arrogance
2 : 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

First Known Use of tell off

1727, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tell off

Time Traveler for tell off

Time Traveler

The first known use of tell off was in 1727

See more words from the same year

Statistics for tell off

Cite this Entry

“Tell off.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tell off

What made you want to look up tell off? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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