Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “spell”

See all translations

spell

verb uk   /spel/ us  

spell verb (FORM WORDS)

A2 [I or T] (spelled or UK also spelt, spelled or UK also spelt) to form a word or words with the letters in the correct order: How do you spell receive? Shakespeare did not always spell his own name the same way. Our address is 1520 Main Street, Albuquerque. Shall I spell that (out) (= say in the correct order the letters that form the word) for you? I think it's important that children should be taught to spell.
More examples

spell verb (RESULT)

spell disaster, trouble, etc. to cause something bad to happen in the future: The new regulations could spell disaster for small businesses. This cold weather could spell trouble for gardeners.

spell verb (DO INSTEAD)

[T] (spelled, spelled) mainly US to do something that someone else would usually be doing, especially in order to allow them to rest: You've been driving for a while - do you want me to spell you?
Phrasal verbs

spell

noun [C] uk   /spel/ us  

spell noun [C] (PERIOD)

a period of time for which an activity or condition lasts continuously: I lived in Cairo for a spell. She had a brief spell as captain of the team. I keep having/getting dizzy spells (= periods of feeling as if I'm turning around). a short period of a particular type of weather: a spell of dry weather The weather forecast is for dry, sunny spells.
More examples

spell noun [C] (DO INSTEAD)

US a period when you do something that someone else would usually be doing, especially in order to allow them to rest: If we take spells (with) doing the painting, it won't seem like such hard work.

spell noun [C] (MAGIC)

spoken words that are thought to have magical power, or (the condition of being under) the influence or control of such words: The witch cast/put a spell on the prince and he turned into a frog. A beautiful girl would have to kiss him to break (= stop) the spell. Sleeping Beauty lay under the wicked fairy's spell until the prince woke her with a kiss.
(Definition of spell from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of spell?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “spell” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

lamb

a young sheep, or the flesh of a young sheep eaten as meat

Word of the Day

The way we move (Verbs for walking and running)

by Kate Woodford,
March 25, 2015
​​​ This week we’re looking at interesting ways to describe the way that people move. Most of the verbs that we’ll be considering describe how fast or slow people move. Others describe the attitude or state of mind of the person walking or running. Some describe both. Starting with verbs for walking slowly,

Read More 

crossfit noun

March 23, 2015
high-intensity strength training Two women in strappy dresses discussed how much weight they could snatch

Read More