Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To give a detailed account of; narrate: tell what happened; told us a story.
  • transitive v. To communicate by speech or writing; express with words: tell the truth; tell one's love.
  • transitive v. To make known; reveal: tell a secret; tell fortunes.
  • transitive v. To notify; inform.
  • transitive v. To inform positively; assure: I tell you, the plan will work.
  • transitive v. To give instructions to; direct: told the customers to wait in line.
  • transitive v. To discover by observation; discern: could tell that he was upset.
  • transitive v. To name or number one by one; count: telling one's blessings; 16 windows, all told.
  • intransitive v. To give an account or revelation: is prepared to break silence and tell.
  • intransitive v. To give evidence; inform: promised not to tell on her friend.
  • intransitive v. To have an effect or impact: In this game every move tells.
  • tell off Informal To rebuke severely; reprimand.
  • n. A mound, especially in the Middle East, made up of the remains of a succession of previous settlements.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To count, reckon, or enumerate.
  • v. To narrate.
  • v. To convey by speech; to say.
  • v. To instruct or inform.
  • v. To order; to direct, to say to someone.
  • v. To discern, notice, identify or distinguish.
  • v. To reveal.
  • v. To be revealed.
  • v. To have an effect, especially a noticeable one; to be apparent, to be demonstrated.
  • n. A reflexive, often habitual behavior, especially one occurring in a context that often features attempts at deception by persons under psychological stress (such as a poker game or police interrogation), that reveals information that the person exhibiting the behavior is attempting to withhold.
  • n. A mound, originally in the Middle East, over or consisting of the ruins of ancient settlements.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • n. That which is told; account; narration; story; tale.
  • n. A hill or mound: common in Oriental place-names.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. discern or comprehend
  • v. inform positively and with certainty and confidence
  • n. a Swiss patriot who lived in the early 14th century and who was renowned for his skill as an archer; according to legend an Austrian governor compelled him to shoot an apple from his son's head with his crossbow (which he did successfully without mishap)
  • v. express in words
  • v. let something be known
  • v. give evidence
  • v. give instructions to or direct somebody to do something with authority
  • v. narrate or give a detailed account of
  • v. mark as different

Etymologies

Middle English tellen, from Old English tellan.
Arabic tall.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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. (Wiktionary)
From Arabic تل (tall, "hill, elevation") (Wiktionary)

Examples

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

    Think Progress » Coalition of the shrinking.

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

    Dorothy Dainty's Gay Times

  • -- 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.

    Barford Abbey

  • 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?

    Barford Abbey

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

    The Man without a Country

  • "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

  • "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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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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Comments

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

    January 26, 2012

  • Do!

    September 9, 2008