tell Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Definition of “tell” - English Dictionary

"tell" in American English

See all translations

tellverb

 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)







"tell" in British English

See all translations

tellverb

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.

expend iconexpend iconMore 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 them.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.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

(Definition of tell from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
What is the pronunciation of tell?
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website
Word of the Day

costume

the set of clothes typical of a particular country or period of history, or suitable for a particular activity

Word of the Day

I used to work hard/I’m used to working hard (Phrases with ‘used to’)
I used to work hard/I’m used to working hard (Phrases with ‘used to’)
by Kate Woodford,
February 10, 2016
On this blog, we like to look at words and phrases in the English language that learners often have difficulty with. Two phrases that can be confused are ‘used to do something’ and ‘be used to something/doing something’. People often use one phrase when they mean the other, or they use the wrong

Read More 

farecasting noun
farecasting noun
February 08, 2016
predicting the optimum date to buy a plane ticket, especially on a website or using an app A handful of new and updated websites and apps are trying to perfect the art of what’s known as farecasting – predicting the best date to buy a ticket.

Read More