spell Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Meaning of “spell” in the English Dictionary

"spell" in British English

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spellverb

uk   us   /spel/
  • 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 ​correctorder: 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 ​correctorder the ​letters that ​form the word) for you? I ​think it's ​important that ​children should be ​taught to spell.

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  • 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

spellnoun [C]

uk   us   /spel/
  • spell noun [C] (PERIOD)

a ​period of ​time for which an ​activity or ​conditionlastscontinuously: I ​lived in Cairo for a spell. She had a ​brief spell ascaptain of the ​team. I ​keep having/getting dizzy spells (= ​periods of ​feeling as if I'm ​turning around). a ​shortperiod of a ​particulartype of ​weather: a spell of ​dryweather The ​weatherforecast is for ​dry, ​sunny spells.

expend iconexpend iconMore 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 ​magicalpower, 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 ​beautifulgirl would have to ​kiss him to break (= ​stop) the spell. Sleeping Beauty ​lay under the ​wicked fairy's spell until the ​princewoke her with a ​kiss.
(Definition of spell from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"spell" in American English

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spellverb

 us   /spel/
  • spell verb (FORM WORDS)

[I/T] to ​form a word or words with the ​letters in the ​correctorder: [I] As a ​child he never ​learned to spell. [T] Send it to Dr. Mikolajczyk – I’ll spell that ​name for you (= say the ​letters that ​form the word).
  • spell verb (RESULT)

[T] to have usually something ​unpleasant as a ​result: This ​coldweather could spell ​trouble for ​gardeners.

spellnoun [C]

 us   /spel/
  • spell noun [C] (PERIOD)

a ​period of ​time during which an ​activity or ​conditionlasts: a spell of ​wetweather She ​lived in London for a ​short spell in the 1980s.
  • spell noun [C] (POWER)

a ​magicpowerproduced by ​speaking a set of words or taking a ​specific set of ​actions: He was ​placed under a spell that could be ​broken only when the ​princesskissed him.
(Definition of spell from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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