from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To inform on; to tattle; to tell someone with authority that someone else has done something wrong; usually somewhat childish.
  • v. To cause strain to somebody or something.

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

  • v. produce an effect or strain on somebody
  • v. give away information about somebody


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Mr. Gowran was very attentive, and could tell on any day, to five minutes, how long the two cousins were sitting together on the sea-shore.

    The Eustace Diamonds

  • She was very near hating him now; yet the sound of his voice, the way the light tell on his thin dark hair, the way he sat and moved and wore his clothes—she was conscious that even these trivial things were inwoven with her deepest life.

    The House of Mirth

  • Age, he reflected, was beginning to tell on him, and, since he was a person not given to self-consideration, it came to him with all the force of a major discovery that nearly thirty-five and nearly twenty-five are two very different kettles of fish where nervous stamina and the ability to do without sleep are concerned.

    Flowers for the Judge

  • He wanted to be put in, with pictures representing him gloriously declining to lie to his mother, and her weeping for joy about it; and pictures representing him standing on the doorstep giving a penny to a poor beggar-woman with six children, and telling her to spend it freely, but not to be extravagant, because extravagance is a sin; and pictures of him magnanimously refusing to tell on the bad boy who always lay in wait for him around the corner as he came from school, and welted him over the head with a lath, and then chased him home, saying, "Hi! hi!" as he proceeded.

    The Story of the Good Little Boy

  • “Don’t tell on me,” begged Leslie, getting very red in the face as the tears rose in his eyes, “I wasn’t doing no ’arm, only looking at Harry Reed’s boat and that.”

    The Port of London Murders

  • Polly quickly spoke up and said, “Teacher, Johnny Burris put his feet on the seat” ” what a blow it was to me for her to tell on me!

    My Boyhood

  • Five of them, rather to my surprise, were type-written, as far as we could tell on the Underwood in my father's library, which had a marginally skewed lower-case "a" from when a curious child — me — had tried to commit surgery on it.

    Locked Rooms


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