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English definition of “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.Announcing, informing and stating tell a lie/lies to say something/things that are not true: She's always telling lies.Lies, lying and hypocrisyDishonest people tell it like it is informal to tell the facts without hiding anythingBlunt and direct in speech and behaviourNot saying muchNot being friendly tell 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
Revealing secrets and becoming known
tell the truth to speak honestly: How do you know she's telling the truth?Honesty, openness and sincerity to tell (you) the truth to be honest: To tell (you) the truth, I didn't understand a word of what he was saying.Honesty, openness and sincerity

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.Knowing and learning 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.Identifying 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.Predicting things and intuition tell the time to be able to understand a clock: My daughter has just learned to tell the time.Watches and clocks there is no telling there is no way of knowing: There is no telling what the future will hold for them.Predicting things and intuition 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.UncertaintyHesitatingAchievable

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.Causing things to happen
(Definition of tell from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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