Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

English definition of “spell”

See all translations

spell

verb uk   /spel/ us  

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.
More examples

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   /spel/ us  

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.
More 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 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)
What is the pronunciation of spell?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website

Definitions of “spell” in other dictionaries

Word of the Day

bad/hard/tough luck

said to express sympathy with someone when something bad has happened to them

Word of the Day

Think long and hard; the language of decisions

by Liz Walter,
January 28, 2015
One of the best ways (perhaps the best way) to improve your English is to learn how words go together in phrases, idioms, or other patterns such as verb/noun or adjective/noun pairs (often called ‘collocations’). This blog looks at some useful phrases and collocations connected with the subject of decisions, something we

Read More 

micro pig noun

January 26, 2015
an extremely small pig, bred to be a pet Micro pigs have become popular pets recently, with famous owners including Victoria Beckham, Paris Hilton and Olympic diver, Tom Daley.

Read More