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Webster 1913 Edition


Spell

Spell

,
Noun.
[OE.
speld
, AS.
speld
a spill to light a candle with; akin to D.
speld
a pin, OD.
spelle
, G.
spalten
to split, OHG.
spaltan
, MHG.
spelte
a splinter, Icel.
spjald
a square tablet, Goth.
spilda
a writing tablet. Cf.
Spill
splinter, roll of paper,
Spell
to tell the letters of.]
A spelk, or splinter.
[Obs.]
Holland.

Spell

,
Verb.
T.
[
imp. & p. p.
Spelled
;
p. pr. & vb. n.
Spelling
.]
[AS.
spelian
to supply another’s place.]
To supply the place of for a time; to take the turn of, at work; to relieve;
as, to
spell
the helmsman
.

Spell

,
Noun.
1.
The relief of one person by another in any piece of work or watching; also, a turn at work which is carried on by one person or gang relieving another;
as, a
spell
at the pumps; a
spell
at the masthead
.
A
spell
at the wheel is called a trick.
Ham. Nav. Encyc.
2.
The time during which one person or gang works until relieved; hence, any relatively short period of time, whether a few hours, days, or weeks.
Nothing new has happened in this quarter, except the setting in of a severe
spell
of cold weather.
Washington.
3.
One of two or more persons or gangs who work by spells.
[R.]
Their toil is so extreme that they can not endure it above four hours in a day, but are succeeded by
spells
.
Garew.
4.
A gratuitous helping forward of another's work;
as, a logging
spell
.
[Local, U.S.]

Spell

,
Noun.
[AS.
spell
a saying, tale, speech; akin to OS. & OHG.
spel
, Icel.
spjall
,Goth.
spill
. Cf.
Gospel
,
Spell
to tell the letters of.]
1.
A story; a tale.
[Obs.]
“Hearken to my spell.”
Chaucer.
2.
A stanza, verse, or phrase supposed to be endowed with magical power; an incantation; hence, any charm.
Start not; her actions shall be holy as
You hear my
spell
is lawful.
Shakespeare

Spell

,
Verb.
T.
[
imp. & p. p.
Spelled
or
Spelt
;
p. pr. & vb. n.
Spelling
.]
[OE.
spellen
,
spellien
, tell, relate, AS.
spellian
, fr.
spell
a saying, tale; akin to MHG.
spellen
to relate, Goth.
spill[GREEK]n
.e
Spell
a tale. In sense 4 and those following, OE.
spellen
, perhaps originally a different word, and from or influenced by
spell
a splinter, from the use of a piece of wood to point to the letters in schools: cf. D.
spellen
to spell. Cf.
Spell
splinter.]
1.
To tell; to relate; to teach.
[Obs.]
Might I that legend find,
By fairies
spelt
in mystic rhymes.
T. Warton.
2.
To put under the influence of a spell; to affect by a spell; to bewitch; to fascinate; to charm.
Spelled with words of power.”
Dryden.
He was much
spelled
with Eleanor Talbot.
Sir G. Buck.
3.
To constitute; to measure.
[Obs.]
The Saxon heptarchy, when seven kings put together did
spell
but one in effect.
Fuller.
4.
To tell or name in their proper order letters of, as a word; to write or print in order the letters of, esp. the proper letters; to form, as words, by correct orthography.
The word “satire” ought to be
spelled
with i, and not with y.
Dryden.
5.
To discover by characters or marks; to read with difficulty; – usually with out;
as, to
spell
out the sense of an author; to
spell
out a verse in the Bible.
To
spell
out a God in the works of creation.
South.
To sit
spelling
and observing divine justice upon every accident.
Milton.

Spell

,
Verb.
I.
1.
To form words with letters, esp. with the proper letters, either orally or in writing.
When what small knowledge was, in them did dwell,
And he a god, who could but read or
spell
.
Dryden.
2.
To study by noting characters; to gain knowledge or learn the meaning of anything, by study.
[Obs.]
Where I may sit and rightly
spell

Of every star that heaven doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew.
Milton.

Webster 1828 Edition


Spell

SPELL

,
Noun.
[The verb primarily signifies to throw or drive, and is probably formed on the root of L. pello. In some of the application of spell, we observe the sense of turn. We observe the same in throw, warp, cant, &c.]
1.
A story; a tale.
2.
A charm consisting of some words of occult power. Start not; her actions shall be holy; you hear my speel is lawful. Begin, begin; the mystic spell prepare.
3.
A turn of work; relief; turn of duty. Take a spell at the pump. Their toil is so extreme, that they cannot endure it above four hours in a day, but are succeed by spells.
4.
In New England, a short time; a little time. [Not elegant.]
5.
A turn of gratuitous labor, sometimes accompanied with presents. People give their neighbors a spell.

SPELL

,
Verb.
T.
pret. and pp. spelled or spelt.
1.
To tell or name the letters of a word, with a proper division of syllables, for the with a proper division of syllables, for the purpose of learning the pronunciation. In this matter children learn to read by first spelling the words.
2.
To write or print with the proper letters; to form words by correct orthography. The word satire ought to be spelled with i, and not with y.
3.
To take another's place or turn temporarily in any labor or service. [This is a popular use of the word in New England.]
4.
To charm; as spelled with words of power.
5.
To read; to discover by characters or marks; with out; as, to speel out the sense of an author. We are not left to spell out a God in the works of creation.
6.
To tell; to relate; to teach. [Not in use.]

SPELL

, v.i.
1.
To form words with the proper letters, either in reading or writing. He knows not how to spell. Our orthography is so irregular that most persons never learn to spell.
2.
To read.

Definition 2022


spell

spell

English

Noun

spell (plural spells)

  1. (obsolete) Speech, discourse. [8th-15th c.]
  2. Words or a formula supposed to have magical powers. [from 16th c.]
    He cast a spell to cure warts.
  3. A magical effect or influence induced by an incantation or formula. [from 16th c.]
    under a spell
Related terms
Synonyms
  • (words or formula supposed to have magical powers): cantrip, incantation
  • (magical effect induced by an incantation or formula): cantrip
Translations

Verb

spell (third-person singular simple present spells, present participle spelling, simple past and past participle spelled)

  1. (obsolete) To speak, to declaim. [9th-16th c.]
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, I.ii:
      O who can tell / The hidden power of herbes, and might of Magicke spell?
  2. (obsolete) To tell; to relate; to teach.
    • T. Warton
      Might I that legend find, / By fairies spelt in mystic rhymes.
  3. To put under the influence of a spell; to affect by a spell; to bewitch; to fascinate; to charm.
    • Dryden
      Spelled with words of power.
    • Sir G. Buck
      He was much spelled with Eleanor Talbot.

Etymology 2

From Old French espel(l)er ( > Modern French épeler), ultimately from Proto-Germanic *spel- (to speak).

Verb

spell (third-person singular simple present spells, present participle spelling, simple past and past participle spelled or (mostly UK) spelt)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To read (something) as though letter by letter; to peruse slowly or with effort. [from 14th c.]
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby Dick:
      "He'll do," said Bildad, eyeing me, and then went on spelling away at his book in a mumbling tone quite audible.
  2. (transitive, sometimes with “out”) To write or say the letters that form a word or part of a word. [from 16th c.]
  3. (intransitive) To be able to write or say the letters that form words.
    I find it difficult to spell because I'm dyslexic.
  4. (transitive) Of letters: to compose (a word). [from 19th c.]
    The letters “a”, “n” and “d” spell “and”.
    • 2008, Helen Fryer, The Esperanto Teacher, BiblioBazaar, LLC, ISBN 9780554320076, page 13:
      In Esperanto each letter has only one sound, and each sound is represented in only one way. The words are pronounced exactly as spelt, every letter being sounded.
  5. (transitive, figuratively) To indicate that (some event) will occur. [from 19th c.]
    This spells trouble.
  6. (transitive, figuratively, with “out”) To clarify; to explain in detail. [from 20th c.]
    Please spell it out for me.
    • 2003, U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbel, Hearing before the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, ISBN 1422334120:
      When we get elected, for instance, we get one of these, and we are pretty much told what is in it, and it is our responsibility to read it and understand it, and if we do not, the Ethics Committee, we can call them any time of day and ask them to spell it out for us []
  7. To constitute; to measure.
    • Fuller
      the Saxon heptarchy, when seven kings put together did spell but one in effect
Derived terms
Synonyms
Translations

Etymology 3

Origin uncertain; perhaps a form of speld.

Noun

spell (plural spells)

  1. (dialectal) A splinter, usually of wood; a spelk.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Holland to this entry?)
  2. The wooden bat in the game of trap ball, or knurr and spell.

Etymology 4

From Middle English spelen, from Old English spelian, akin to spala (substitute).

Verb

spell (third-person singular simple present spells, present participle spelling, simple past and past participle spelled or spelt)

  1. (transitive) To work in place of (someone).
    to spell the helmsman
  2. (transitive) To rest (someone or something).
    They spelled the horses and rested in the shade of some trees near a brook.
Derived terms
Translations

Noun

spell (plural spells)

  1. A shift (of work); a set of workers responsible for a specific turn of labour. [from 16th c.]
  2. A period of (work or other activity). [from 18th c.]
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 1, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
      A chap named Eleazir Kendrick and I had chummed in together the summer afore and built a fish-weir and shanty at Setuckit Point, down Orham way. For a spell we done pretty well. Then there came a reg'lar terror of a sou'wester same as you don't get one summer in a thousand, and blowed the shanty flat and ripped about half of the weir poles out of the sand.
    • 2012 April 22, Sam Sheringham, Liverpool 0-1 West Brom”, in BBC Sport:
      Despite his ill-fated spell at Anfield, he received a warm reception from the same Liverpool fans he struggled to win over before being sacked midway through last season.
  3. An indefinite period of time (usually with some qualifying word). [from 18th c.]
    • 1975, Bob Dylan, Tangled Up in Blue
      I had a job in the great North Woods
      Workin' as a cook for a spell.
      But I never did like it all that much
      And one day the ax just fell.
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, chapter 24, in Dracula, HTML edition:
      Even Mrs. Harker seems to lose sight of her trouble for whole spells. [...] When he had spoken, Mina's long spell of silence made me look at her.
  4. A period of rest; time off. [from 19th c.]
  5. (US) A period of illness, or sudden interval of bad spirits, disease etc. [from 19th c.]
  6. (cricket) An uninterrupted series of alternate overs bowled by a single bowler. [from 20th c.]
Derived terms
Translations

Quotations

  • For usage examples of this term, see Citations:spell.

Anagrams


Faroese

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /spɛtl/

Noun

spell n (genitive singular spels, plural spell)

  1. pity, shame

Declension

n9 Singular Plural
Indefinite Definite Indefinite Definite
Nominative spell spellið spell spellini
Accusative spell spellið spell spellini
Dative spelli spellinum spellum spellunum
Genitive spels spelsins spella spellanna