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

  • noun Any of various aquatic carnivorous mammals of the families Phocidae and Otariidae, found chiefly in cold regions and having a sleek torpedo-shaped body and limbs that are modified into paddlelike flippers.
  • noun The pelt or fur of one of these animals, especially a fur seal.
  • noun Leather made from the hide of one of these animals.
  • intransitive verb To hunt seals.
  • noun A device or material that is used to close off or fasten an opening or connection, especially to prevent the escape of a liquid or gas.
  • noun An airtight closure.
  • noun Something, such as a piece of tape, that is placed on a product or package to show that the contents have not been tampered with.
  • noun The water in the trap of a drain that prevents sewer gas from escaping into a room.
  • noun A design used to identify a person or thing or to show that something is authentic, accurate, or of good quality.
  • noun A small decorative paper sticker.
  • noun A die or signet having a raised or incised emblem used to stamp an impression on a receptive substance such as wax or lead.
  • noun The impression so made.
  • noun The design or emblem itself, belonging exclusively to the user.
  • noun A small disk or wafer of wax, lead, or paper bearing such an imprint and affixed to a document to prove authenticity or to secure it.
  • noun An indication or symbol regarded as guaranteeing or authenticating something.
  • transitive verb To close or fasten with a seal.
  • transitive verb To prevent (a liquid or gas) from escaping.
  • transitive verb To cover, secure, or fill up (an opening).
  • transitive verb To apply a waterproof coating to.
  • transitive verb To secure or prevent passage into and out of (an area). Often used with off:
  • transitive verb To affix a seal to (something) in order to prove authenticity, accuracy, or quality.
  • transitive verb To establish or determine irrevocably.
  • transitive verb Mormon Church To make (a marriage, for example) eternally binding; solemnize forever.
  • idiom ((one's) lips are sealed) Used to indicate that one will not disclose a piece of information.
  • idiom (under seal) Having an impression or emblem attesting to a document's authenticity and reliability.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To hunt or catch seals.
  • See seel.
  • noun Sealskin; leather made from the skin of the seal.
  • To set or affix a seal to, as a mark of authenticity, confirmation, or execution: as, to seal a deed.
  • To stamp, as with a seal.
  • Specifically
  • To certify with a stamp or mark; stamp as an evidence of standard exactness, legal size, or merchantable quality: as, to seal weights and measures; to seal leather.
  • To attest; affirm; bear witness to the truth or genuineness of, by some outward act: as, to seal one's loyalty with one's life; hence, to confirm; ratify; establish; fix.
  • To grant authoritatively or under seal.
  • To fasten or secure with a seal, or with some fastening bearing a seal; close or secure with sealing-wax, a wafer, or the like: as, to seal a letter.
  • To shut up or close: as, to seal a book; to seal one's lips or eyes; hence, to establish; determine irrevocably.
  • To mark; designate; appoint.
  • To set apart or give in marriage, according to the system of plural marriages prevalent among the Mormons of Utah.
  • To inclose; confine; imprison.
  • In hydraul., sanitary engin., etc., to secure against a flow or escape of air or gas, as by the use of a dip-pipe in any form.
  • In architecture, to fix, as a piece of wood or iron in a wall, with cement, plaster, or other binding material for staples, hinges, etc.
  • To close the chinks of, as a log house, with plaster, clay, or the like.
  • To aceept; adopt: as, to seal a design.
  • Eccles.:
  • To sign with the cross.
  • To baptize.


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

[Middle English sele, from Old English seolh.]

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

[Middle English, die or signet for stamping an impression, from Old French seel, from Vulgar Latin *sigellum, from Latin sigillum, diminutive of signum, sign, seal; see sekw- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English sǣlan ("to bind").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English sele, from an inflectional form of Old English seolh, from Proto-Germanic *selhaz (compare North Frisian selich, Middle Dutch seel, zēle, Old High German selah, Danish sæl, Middle Low German sale), either from Proto-Indo-European *selk, *solk 'to pull' (compare English dialect sullow 'plough') or from Finno-Ugric *šülke (compare Finnish dialect hylki, standard hylje, Estonian hüljes). More at sullow.


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  • When I was in college, I used to have to visit the delightful ladies in the education office to get offical things embossed with the school insignia. Upon being asked, one secretary would say to the other, "It's time to use the seal," or some such introductory comment. Then both middle-aged women would start whooping. Sometimes hand motions would accompany the performance.

    July 6, 2007