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

  • noun A short, indefinite period of time.
  • noun Informal A period of weather of a particular kind.
  • noun One's turn at work.
  • noun A period of work; a shift.
  • noun Australian A period of rest.
  • noun Informal A period of physical or mental disorder or distress.
  • noun Informal A short distance.
  • intransitive verb To relieve (someone) from work temporarily by taking a turn.
  • intransitive verb To allow (someone) to rest a while.
  • intransitive verb To take turns working.
  • intransitive verb Australian To rest for a time from an activity.
  • noun A word or formula believed to have magic power.
  • noun A bewitched state or trance.
  • noun A compelling attraction; charm or fascination.
  • transitive verb To put (someone) under a spell; bewitch.
  • intransitive verb To name or write in order the letters constituting (a word).
  • intransitive verb To constitute the letters of (a word).
  • intransitive verb To add up to; signify.
  • intransitive verb To name or write in order the letters of a word or words.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A turn of work or duty in place of another; an interval of relief by another person; an exchange of work and rest: as, to take one's regular spell; to work the pumps by spells.
  • noun Hence. A continuous course of employment in work or duty; a turn of occupation between periods of rest; a bout.
  • noun An interval of. rest or relaxation; a turn or period of relief from work; a resting-time.
  • noun Any interval of time within definite limits; an unbroken term or period.
  • noun A short period, indefinitely; an odd or occasional interval; an uncertain term; a while.
  • noun A bad turn; an uncomfortable time; a period of personal ailment or ill feeling.
  • To take the place of (another person) temporarily in doing something; take turns with; relieve for a time; give a rest to.
  • To tell or set forth letter by letter; set down letter by letter; tell the letters of; form by or in letters.
  • To read letter by letter, or with laborious effort; hence, to discover by careful study; make out point by point: often with out or orer.
  • To constitute, as letters constitute a word; make up.
  • To form words with the proper letters, in either reading or writing; repeat or set down the letters of words.
  • To make a study; engage in careful contemplation of something.
  • noun A chip, splinter, or splint.
  • noun In the game of nur-and-spell, the steel spring by which the nur is thrown into the air.
  • noun One of the transverse pieces at the bottom of a chair which strengthen and keep together the legs.
  • noun A tale; story; narrative.
  • noun Speech; word of mouth; direct address.
  • noun A charm consisting of some words of supposed occult power; any form of words, whether written or spoken, supposed to be endowed with magical virtues; an incantation; hence, any means or cause of enchantment, literally or figuratively; a magical or an enthralling charm; a condition of enchantment; fascination; as, to cast a spell over a person; to be under a spell, or bound by a spell.
  • To tell; relate; teach; disclose.
  • To act as a spell upon; entrance; enthrall; fascinate; charm.
  • To imbue with magic properties.
  • To tell; tell a story; give an account.

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

  • transitive verb To supply the place of for a time; to take the turn of, at work; to relieve.
  • intransitive verb To form words with letters, esp. with the proper letters, either orally or in writing.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To study by noting characters; to gain knowledge or learn the meaning of anything, by study.
  • transitive verb obsolete To tell; to relate; to teach.


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

[From Middle English spelen, to spare, from Old English spelian, to represent, substitute for.]

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

[Middle English, discourse, from Old English.]

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

[Middle English spellen, to read letter by letter, from Old French espeller, of Germanic origin.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English spel, spellian, spelian, from Proto-Germanic *spellan, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *spel- (“to tell”). Cognate with dialectal German Spill, spellen and Albanian fjalë ("word").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Origin uncertain; perhaps a form of speld.


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