spell - definition in the British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionaries Online (US)

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English definition of “spell”

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spell

verb 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 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.
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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   us   /spel/

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.
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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)
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