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spell Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun a psychological state induced by (or as if induced by) a magical incantation
    enchantment; trance.
  2. noun a time for working (after which you will be relieved by someone else)
    go; turn; tour.
    • it's my go
    • a spell of work
  3. noun a period of indeterminate length (usually short) marked by some action or condition
    while; piece; patch.
    • he was here for a little while
    • I need to rest for a piece
    • a spell of good weather
    • a patch of bad weather
  4. noun a verbal formula believed to have magical force
    magical spell; magic spell; charm.
    • he whispered a spell as he moved his hands
    • inscribed around its base is a charm in Balinese
  5. verb orally recite the letters of or give the spelling of
    spell out.
    • How do you spell this word?" "We had to spell out our names for the police officer
  6. verb indicate or signify
    • I'm afraid this spells trouble!
  7. verb write or name the letters that comprise the conventionally accepted form of (a word or part of a word)
    • He spelled the word wrong in this letter
  8. verb relieve (someone) from work by taking a turn
    • She spelled her husband at the wheel
  9. verb place under a spell
  10. verb take turns working
    • the workers spell every four hours

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. Spillsplinter, roll of paper, Spell to tell the letters of.
  1. A spelk, or splinter. Obs. Holland.
Spell transitive verb
AS. spelian to supply another's place.
imperfect & past participle Spelled ; present participle & verbal noun Spelling
  1. 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 wathing; also, a turn at work which is carried on by one person or gang relieving another; as, a spellat the pumps; a spell at the masthead.
    A spell at the wheel isc 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 hass 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. Shak.
Spell transitive verb
OE. spellen, spellien, tell, relate, AS. spellian, fr. spell a saying, tale; akin to MHG. spellen to relate, Goth. spilln.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.
imperfect & past participle Spelled or Spelt ; present participle & verbal noun Spelling
  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 intransitive verb
  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 1913

"Rowling never met an adverb she didn't like."

-Stephen King on J.K Rowling's excessive use of adverbs.

Fear not the Adverb Hell!

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