Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: LINGUISTICS

Date: 1200-1300
Language: Old French
Origin: espeller

spell

1 verb
     
spell1 S2 past tense and past participle spelt British English also spelled especially American English
1 [intransitive and transitive]SL to form a word by writing or naming the letters in order:
Pupils should know how to spell commonly used words.
spell something wrong/wrongly
You've spelled my name wrong.
2 [transitive not in passive] if letters spell a word, they form it:
B-O-O-K spells 'book'.
3

spell trouble/disaster/danger etc

if a situation or action spells trouble etc, it makes you expect trouble etc:
The lack of rain could spell disaster for farmers.
4 [transitive] American English to do someone else's work for them for a short period so that they can rest:
I can spell you if you get tired.

spell something ↔ out

phrasal verb
1 to explain something clearly and in detail
spell out how/what etc
The report spelled out in detail what the implications were for teacher training.
2 to show how a word is spelled by writing or saying the letters separately in order:
'W-E-I-R,' she said, spelling it out.
3 to write a word in its complete form instead of using an abbreviation
WORD FOCUS: write WORD FOCUS: write
quickly: jot down, dash off

in a way that is difficult to read: scribble, scrawl

write information on an official form: fill in/fill out

write a word correctly: spell

start to write: put pen to paper


See also
write
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