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English definition of “tell”

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tell

verb uk   /tel/ (told, told) us  

tell verb (SPEAK)

A1 [T] to say something to someone, often giving them information or instructions: Tell me about your holiday then. [+ two objects] Can you tell me the way to the station? [+ obj + (that) ] Did you tell anyone (that) you were coming to see me? [+ obj + speech ] "I'm leaving you," she told him. [+ obj + to infinitive ] I told her to go home. formal He told us of his extraordinary childhood. I can't tell you how grateful I am for your help.tell a lie/lies to say something/things that are not true: She's always telling lies.tell it like it is informal to tell the facts without hiding anythingtell tales disapproving If someone, usually a child, tells tales, they tell someone such as a teacher about something bad that someone else has done: Your classmates won't trust you if you're always telling tales, Alvin.
See also
tell the truth to speak honestly: How do you know she's telling the truth?to tell (you) the truth to be honest: To tell (you) the truth, I didn't understand a word of what he was saying.
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tell verb (KNOW)

B2 [I or T] to know, recognize, or be certain: "He's Dutch." "How can you tell?" [+ (that)] I could tell (that) you were unhappy.B2 [T] If something tells you something, it gives you information: What does the survey tell us about the lives of teenagers?tell the difference C1 to notice a difference in quality between two things: This coffee is about half the price of that one and yet you really can't tell the difference.tell sb's fortune ( also tell fortunes) to say what will happen in someone's future: At the fair, there was a lady who told your fortune.tell the time UK ( US tell time) to be able to understand a clock: My daughter has just learned to tell the time.there is no telling there is no way of knowing: There is no telling what the future will hold for them.you never can tell B2 ( also you can never tell) said to mean that you can never know or be certain: Who knows what will happen to Peter and me in the future - you can never tell.
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tell verb (HAVE AN EFFECT)

[I] to have an effect: She's been under a lot of stress recently and it's starting to tell.
(Definition of tell from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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