What does spell mean?

Definitions for spell

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word spell.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. enchantment, spell, trancenoun

    a psychological state induced by (or as if induced by) a magical incantation

  2. go, spell, tour, turnnoun

    a time for working (after which you will be relieved by someone else)

    "it's my go"; "a spell of work"

  3. while, piece, spell, patchnoun

    a period of indeterminate length (usually short) marked by some action or condition

    "he was here for a little while"; "I need to rest for a piece"; "a spell of good weather"; "a patch of bad weather"

  4. spell, magic spell, magical spell, charmverb

    a verbal formula believed to have magical force

    "he whispered a spell as he moved his hands"; "inscribed around its base is a charm in Balinese"

  5. spell, spell outverb

    orally recite the letters of or give the spelling of

    "How do you spell this word?" "We had to spell out our names for the police officer"

  6. spell, importverb

    indicate or signify

    "I'm afraid this spells trouble!"

  7. spell, writeverb

    write or name the letters that comprise the conventionally accepted form of (a word or part of a word)

    "He spelled the word wrong in this letter"

  8. spellverb

    relieve (someone) from work by taking a turn

    "She spelled her husband at the wheel"

  9. spellverb

    place under a spell

  10. spellverb

    take turns working

    "the workers spell every four hours"

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. SPELLnoun

    Etymology: spel , Saxon, a word.

    Start not; her actions shall be holy:
    You hear my spell is lawful: do not shun her,
    Until you see her die again; for then
    You kill her double. William Shakespeare, Winter’s Tale.

    Some have delivered the polity of spirits, that they stand in awe of charms, spells, and conjurations, letters, characters, notes, and dashes. Thomas Browne, Vulgar Errours.

    Thou durst not thus disparage glorious arms,
    Had not spells
    And black enchantments, some magician’s art,
    Arm’d thee or charm’d thee strong. John Milton, Agonistes.

    Begin, begin, the mystick spell prepare. John Milton.

    Yourself you so excel,
    When you vouchsafe to breathe my thought,
    That like a spirit with this spell
    Of my own teaching, I am caught. Edmund Waller.

    Mild Lucina
    Then reach’d her midwife hands to speed the throes,
    And spoke the pow’rful spells that babes to birth disclose. Dry.

    Their toil is so extreme as they cannot endure it above four hours in a day, but are succeeded by spells: the residue of the time they wear out at coytes and kayles. Carew.

  2. To Spellverb

    Etymology: spellen, Dutch.

    In the criticism of spelling, the word satire ought to be with i, and not with y; and if this be so, then it is false spelled throughout. John Dryden, Juvenal, Dedication.

    I never yet saw man,
    How wise, how noble, young, how rarely featur’d,
    But she would spell him backward; if fair fac’d,
    She’d swear the gentleman should be her sister. William Shakespeare.

    I have you fast:
    Unchain your spirits now with spelling charms,
    And try if they can gain your liberty. William Shakespeare, Henry VI.

    This gather’d in the planetary hour,
    With noxious weeds, and spell’d with words of pow’r,
    Dire stepdames in the magick bowl infuse. Dryden.

  3. To Spellverb

    What small knowledge was, in them did dwell;
    And he a god, who could but read or spell. Dryden.

    By pasting on the vowels and consonants on the sides of four dice, he has made this a play for his children, whereby his eldest son in coats, has played himself into spelling. John Locke.

    The Latin, being written of the same character with the mother-tongue, by the assistance of a spelling book, it is legible. Spectator.

    Another cause, which hath maimed our language, is a foolish opinion that we ought to spell exactly as we speak. Jonathan Swift.

    If I read aught in heav’n,
    Or heav’n write aught of fate, by what the stars,
    Voluminous or single characters,
    In their conjunction met, give me to spell,
    Sorrows and labours, opposition, hate,
    Attends thee. John Milton, Paradise Lost.

    When gowns, not arms, repell’d
    The fierce Epirote, and the African bold,
    Whether to settle peace, or to unfold
    The drift of hollow states, hard to be spell’d. John Milton.

    And may at last my weary age
    Find out the peaceful hermitage,
    Where I may sit and rightly spell
    Of every star that heav’n doth shew,
    And every herb that sips the dew. John Milton.

    As to his understanding, they bring him in void of all notion, a rude unwritten blank; sent into the world only to read and spell out a God in the works of creation. South.


  1. spell

    Ladin Dolomitan or standard Ladin is the standard written constructed language (Dachsprache) based on the similarities of the five main dialect-groups of Ladin. It is the desired outcome of the project called SPELL (Servisc per la Planificazion y Elaborazion dl Lingaz Ladin – "service for the planning and preparation of the Ladin language") under the initiative of The Union Generala di Ladins dles Dolomites (project owner) and the Ladin cultural institutes Micurà de Rü, Majon di Fascegn and Istitut Pedagogich Ladin to create a unified standard written language.


  1. spell

    A spell is a series of words that has magical powers. It is a form of words used as a magical charm or incantation. It can also refer to the ability to control or influence people as though one has magical power over them. In addition, spell can mean an indefinite period or duration of time or a short, indefinite period of time. When referring to spelling, it is the process or activity of writing or naming the letters of a word.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Spellnoun

    a spelk, or splinter

  2. Spellverb

    to supply the place of for a time; to take the turn of, at work; to relieve; as, to spell the helmsman

  3. Spellnoun

    the relief of one person by another in any piece of work or watching; also, a turn at work which is carried on by one person or gang relieving another; as, a spell at the pumps; a spell at the masthead

  4. Spellnoun

    the time during which one person or gang works until relieved; hence, any relatively short period of time, whether a few hours, days, or weeks

  5. Spellnoun

    one of two or more persons or gangs who work by spells

  6. Spellnoun

    a gratuitous helping forward of another's work; as, a logging spell

  7. Spellnoun

    a story; a tale

  8. Spellnoun

    a stanza, verse, or phrase supposed to be endowed with magical power; an incantation; hence, any charm

  9. Spellverb

    to tell; to relate; to teach

  10. Spellverb

    to put under the influence of a spell; to affect by a spell; to bewitch; to fascinate; to charm

  11. Spellverb

    to constitute; to measure

  12. Spellverb

    to tell or name in their proper order letters of, as a word; to write or print in order the letters of, esp. the proper letters; to form, as words, by correct orthography

  13. Spellverb

    to discover by characters or marks; to read with difficulty; -- usually with out; as, to spell out the sense of an author; to spell out a verse in the Bible

  14. Spellverb

    to form words with letters, esp. with the proper letters, either orally or in writing

  15. Spellverb

    to study by noting characters; to gain knowledge or learn the meaning of anything, by study

  16. Etymology: [OE. spellen, spellien, tell, relate, AS. spellian, fr. spell a saying, tale; akin to MHG. spellen to relate, Goth. spilln.e Spell a tale. In sense 4 and those following, OE. spellen, perhaps originally a different word, and from or influenced by spell a splinter, from the use of a piece of wood to point to the letters in schools: cf. D. spellen to spell. Cf. Spell splinter.]


  1. Spell

    Spell was a collaboration between Rose McDowall and Boyd Rice. The two cover a number of songs from the 1960s and 1970s, often modifying the lyrics to make them darker. For instance the line in the original song Seasons in the Sun: "Goodbye Papa, please pray for me" becomes "Goodbye Papa, don't pray for me". Several references to Hell and death are added as well.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Spell

    spel, n. any form of words supposed to possess magical power: fascination.—v.t. to tell or name the letters of: to name, write, or print the proper letters of.—v.i. to form words with the proper letters: to study:—pr.p. spell′ing; pa.t. and pa.p. spelled, spelt.—adjs. Spell′able, capable of being spelled; Spell′-bound, Spell′-stopped (Shak.), entranced, fascinated.—ns. Spell′er, one who spells: one skilled in spelling; Spell′ing, act of spelling or naming the letters of words: orthography; Spell′ing-bee, a competition in spelling; Spell′ing-book, a book for teaching to spell; Spell′-work, that which is wrought by spells or charms: power of magic.—Spell backward, to spell, repeat, or arrange in reverse order: to understand in a contrary sense: to turn wrong-side out, misconstrue one's qualities; Spell baker, to do something difficult, that word being one of the earliest dissyllables in children's books. [A.S. spell, a narrative; Goth. spill, Ice. spjall, a tale.]

  2. Spell

    spel, v.t. to take another's place at work:—pr.p. spell′ing; pa.t. and pa.p. spelled.—n. a turn at work: a short period indefinitely: an interval of rest: a bad turn. [A.S. spelian, to act for another; cf. Dut. spelen, Ger. spielen, to play.]

The New Hacker's Dictionary

  1. spell

    Syn. incantation.

Dictionary of Nautical Terms

  1. spell

    The period wherein one or more sailors are employed in particular duties demanding continuous exertion. Such are the spells to the hand-lead in sounding, to working the pumps, to look out on the mast-head, &c., and to steer the ship, which last is generally called the "trick at the wheel." Spel-ian, Anglo-Saxon, "to supply another's room." Thus, Spell ho! is the call for relief.

Suggested Resources

  1. spell

    Song lyrics by spell -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by spell on the Lyrics.com website.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. SPELL

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Spell is ranked #6404 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Spell surname appeared 5,313 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 2 would have the surname Spell.

    77.6% or 4,126 total occurrences were White.
    18.4% or 981 total occurrences were Black.
    1.9% or 103 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    1.2% or 66 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.3% or 20 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.
    0.3% or 17 total occurrences were Asian.

British National Corpus

  1. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'spell' in Written Corpus Frequency: #1826

  2. Nouns Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'spell' in Nouns Frequency: #2019

  3. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'spell' in Verbs Frequency: #711

How to pronounce spell?

How to say spell in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of spell in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of spell in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of spell in a Sentence

  1. Randi Weingarten:

    These guidelines spell out more of what we need to reopen safely, but they come with a necessary cost the administration would rather ignore.

  2. James Gagliano:

    I have never been exposed to someone as prepared, as fair, as impartial, as unbiased and as precise in his language as John Gleeson, john Gotti could spell a death knell for a case just in three or four words.

  3. Will Rogers:

    Nothing you can't spell will ever work.

  4. Frank Lloyd Wright:

    I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.

  5. Kelly Ripa:

    You need to learn how to spell the word too sweetie. As in youre too stupid to be with my young, handsome husband.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for spell

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • تهجئ, تعويذةArabic
  • conjur, embruixament, encantament, encís, lletrejarCatalan, Valencian
  • kouzlo, hláskovat, tvořitCzech
  • staveDanish
  • Zauberspruch, Periode, Zauber, Zeitdauer, buchstabieren, Zauberformel, Weile, Zauberwort, Weilchen, bedeuten, klarmachen, abwechselnGerman
  • ξόρκι, περίοδος, [[γράφω]] [[ορθογραφημένα]], συνεπάγομαιGreek
  • literumi, sorĉoEsperanto
  • hechizo, período, brujería, pataleta, encantamiento, deletrear, descifrar, encanto, rato, conjuro, berrinche, anunciar, presagiarSpanish
  • loits, veerimaEstonian
  • lumous, purkaus, kirous, tietää, loitsu, jakso, tavata, muodostaa, merkitä, selventää, korvata, tuurata, sijainenFinnish
  • maléfice, épeler, charme, sortFrench
  • litrigh, tamallIrish
  • ùine, litrichScottish Gaelic
  • אייתHebrew
  • जादूHindi
  • helyesírás, betűzHungarian
  • հեգել, բառ կազմելArmenian
  • indicar, formula magic, incantamento, orthographiar, componer, intervallo, relevarInterlingua
  • mantraIndonesian
  • galdraþula, stafa, álögIcelandic
  • fattura, maledizione, sillabare, sortilegio, incantesimo, formula magica, maleficio, compitare, presagire, vaticinareItalian
  • 綴るJapanese
  • ასოების დასახელება, დამარცვლით კითხვა, სიტყვების შედგენაGeorgian
  • ប្រកបKhmer
  • 의미하다, 마력, 한동안, 철자, 주문, 한참Korean
  • cantio, incantatio, incantamentum, fascinum, veneficium, conscribo, fascinatio, effascinatio, cantamenLatin
  • үсэглэхMongolian
  • spellen, betekenen, toverspreuk, betoveringDutch
  • besvergelse, formel, stave, trylleformelNorwegian
  • czar, zaklęcie, urok, przeliterowaćPolish
  • encantamento, intervalo, feitiço, soletrar, vaticinar, encanto, prever, pressagiar, renderPortuguese
  • farmec, descântec, se scrie, indica, vrajă, interval, descântătură, litera, rosti, clarifica, înlocuiRomanian
  • буква, писать, заклинание, произноситьRussian
  • sricatiSerbo-Croatian
  • urok, črkovatiSlovene
  • trollformel, besvärjelse, stava, betydaSwedish
  • สะกดThai
  • büyü, tılsım, hecelemek, harflerini söylemekTurkish
  • заклина́ння, ча́ри, закля́ттяUkrainian
  • đánh vầnVietnamese

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"spell." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 21 Apr. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/spell>.

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    soft creamy candy
    A observe
    B fudge
    C acclaim
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