tell Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Meaning of “tell” in the English Dictionary

"tell" in British English

See all translations


uk   us   /tel/ (told, told)

tell verb (SPEAK)

A1 [T] to say something to someone, often giving them ​information or ​instructions: Tell me aboutyourholiday then. [+ two objects] Can you tell me how to get to the ​library? [+ 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 ​extraordinarychildhood. I can't tell you how ​grateful I am for ​yourhelp (= I am ​extremelygrateful).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 ​speakhonestly: 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.
More examples

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 ​yourfortune.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 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.
More examples

tell verb (HAVE AN EFFECT)

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

"tell" in American English

See all translations


 us   /tel/ (past tense and past participle told  /toʊld/ )

tell verb (SAY)

[I/T] to say something to someone, esp. to give ​instructions or ​information; ​report: [T] Can you tell me how to get to the ​busstation? [I] She told about her ​travelsoverseas.

tell verb (SHOW)

[T] to show or give ​information in ​ways other than ​talking: This ​light tells you when the ​battery is ​low.

tell verb (ORDER)

[T] to ​order someone to do something: I told you to be ​home by eleven.

tell verb (KNOW)

[I/T] to ​know or ​recognize: [I] It’s hard to tell which is ​better. [T] It’s ​easy to tell a ​robin by ​itsredbreast. [+ (that) clause] I could tell that you were ​unhappy. [T] This one is ​supposed to be ​better, but how can you tell the ​difference?
(Definition of tell from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of tell?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

“tell” in American English

Word of the Day


a large tree with leaves divided into five parts and large round nuts that can be eaten

Word of the Day