from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A mound, especially in the Middle East, made up of the remains of a succession of previous settlements.
  • intransitive verb To communicate by speech or writing; express with words.
  • intransitive verb To give a detailed account of; narrate.
  • intransitive verb To notify (someone) of something; inform.
  • intransitive verb To make known; disclose or reveal.
  • intransitive verb To inform (someone) positively; assure.
  • intransitive verb To give instructions to; direct.
  • intransitive verb To discover by observation; discern.
  • intransitive verb To name or number one by one; count.
  • intransitive verb To relate a story or give an account of an event.
  • intransitive verb To reveal something that is not supposed to be revealed, especially something that someone has done wrong.
  • intransitive verb To have an effect or impact.
  • idiom (tell time) To determine the time of day indicated by the positions of the hands on a clock.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To number; count; enumerate; reckon one by one, or one after another: as, to tell a hundred; to tell one's beads.
  • To recount; rehearse; narrate; relate: as, to tell a story.
  • To make known; divulge; disclose; reveal; communicate: as, to tell a secret; to tell one's errand.
  • To declare; say.
  • To put or express in words; recite; explain; make clear or plain.
  • To discern so as to be able to say; distinguish; recognize; decide; determine: as, to tell one from another; she cannot tell which she likes best.
  • To inform.
  • To give an order, command, or direction to; order; bid: as, I told him to stay at home.
  • To assure; assert positively to.
  • To make account of: in phrases such as to tell no tale, to tell no dainty, to tell no store.
  • Speak, State, etc. See say.
  • To acquaint (with), apprise (of).
  • To give an account; make report; speak; explain: with of.
  • To say; declare.
  • To talk; chat; gossip.
  • To tell tales; play the informer; inform; blab: with of or on before the person: as, if you do, I'll tell.
  • To act effectively; produce a marked effect or impression; count for something.
  • noun A hill or mound: common in Oriental place-names.
  • noun That which is told; account; narration; story; tale.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A hill or mound.
  • intransitive verb To give an account; to make report.
  • intransitive verb To take effect; to produce a marked effect.
  • intransitive verb To inform against; to disclose some fault of.
  • intransitive verb [Archaic & Colloq.] to inform against.
  • transitive verb To mention one by one, or piece by piece; to recount; to enumerate; to reckon; to number; to count.
  • transitive verb To utter or recite in detail; to give an account of; to narrate.
  • transitive verb To make known; to publish; to disclose; to divulge.
  • transitive verb To give instruction to; to make report to; to acquaint; to teach; to inform.
  • transitive verb To order; to request; to command.
  • transitive verb To discern so as to report; to ascertain by observing; to find out; to discover.
  • transitive verb obsolete To make account of; to regard; to reckon; to value; to estimate.
  • transitive verb to count; to divide.
  • noun rare That which is told; tale; account.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To count, reckon, or enumerate.
  • verb transitive To narrate.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Arabic tall; see tll in Semitic roots.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English tellen, from Old English tellan; see del- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English tellen ("to count, tell"), from Old English tellan ("to count, tell"), from Proto-Germanic *taljanan, *talzijanan (“to count, enumerate”), from Proto-Germanic *talan, *talōn (“number, counting”), from Proto-Indo-European *dol- (“calculation, fraud”). Cognate with English tally ("to count"), West Frisian telle ("to count"), West Frisian fertelle ("to tell, narrate"), Dutch tellen ("to count"), Low German tellen ("to count") and förtellen ("to tell, narrate"), Old High German zellen (German zählen, "to count"), German erzählen ("to tell, recount"), Old Norse telja (Faroese telja, "to count, tell"). More at tale.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Arabic تل (tall, "hill, elevation")


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  • Someone tell me we still have Batswana and Fiji on board……anyone……..tell me what to think…..

    Think Progress » Coalition of the shrinking. 2006

  • Pray tell me, only _tell me_, and he caught one of my hands, if this letter does not fix the _very_ day of your setting out for France?

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  • I won't tell you what it is now, but at the party I'll do better than _tell_ you; I'll _show_ you.

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  • -- But, tell him from me, running to the trunk after her purse, and shaking it just at my ear, -- _tell him_, he shall never be a penny the better for this.

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  • But tell me, —tell me something, —tell me everything, Danforth, before I die!

    The Man without a Country 1917

  • "Tell me, tell me, _tell_ me!" she pleaded; "I know you are half crazed by something -- some dreadful thing that has been done to you --" and ceased, appalled at the distorted visage he turned on her.

    Ailsa Paige 1899

  • "I can cook yet, and scrub, and scour, -- I'm wuth a buying, if I do come cheap; -- tell em dat ar, -- you _tell_ em," she added, earnestly.

    Uncle Tom's Cabin Harriet Beecher Stowe 1853

  • You have enough to tell that is harmless as well as interesting, and not only harmless, but valuable and instructive, and that _ought_ to be told, and which _no one but yourself can tell_.

    Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey Joseph Cottle 1811

  • But tell me, and tell* me truly, Mr. Clinton; thefegems, when you firft purchafed them, were they ac* tually intended for me? were they not rather intended for your Fanny, for your own Fanny, Mr. Clinton?

    The Fool of Quality; Or, the History of Henry Earl of Moreland. 1768

  • The regulations require that the label tell you at least one form of regular care, washing or dry cleaning, needed for the ordinary use and enjoyment of the product, and that it warn the buyer against procedures that the buyer might assume are safe if in fact they would result in damage to the product or others being laundered with it.



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  • Do!

    September 9, 2008

  • to distinguish - tell something from something. it is hard to tell the good from the bad in this movie.

    January 26, 2012