American Dictionary of the English Language

Dictionary Search


SPELL, noun [The verb primarily signifies to throw or drive, and is probably formed on the root of Latin pello. In some of the application of spell we observe the sense of turn. We observe the same in throw, warp, cant, etc.]

1. A story; a tale.

2. A charm consisting of some words of occult power. Start not; her actions shall be holy; you hear my speel is lawful. Begin, begin; the mystic spell prepare.

3. A turn of work; relief; turn of duty. Take a spell at the pump. Their toil is so extreme, that they cannot endure it above four hours in a day, but are succeed by spells.

4. In New England, a short time; a little time. [Not elegant.]

5. A turn of gratuitous labor, sometimes accompanied with presents. People give their neighbors a spell

SPELL, verb transitive preterit tense and participle passive spelled or spelt.

1. To tell or name the letters of a word, with a proper division of syllables, for the with a proper division of syllables, for the purpose of learning the pronunciation. In this matter children learn to read by first spelling the words.

2. To write or print with the proper letters; to form words by correct orthography. The word satire ought to be spelled with i, and not with y.

3. To take another's place or turn temporarily in any labor or service. [This is a popular use of the word in New England.]

4. To charm; as spelled with words of power.

5. To read; to discover by characters or marks; with out; as, to speel out the sense of an author. We are not left to spell out a God in the works of creation.

6. To tell; to relate; to teach. [Not in use.]

SPELL, verb intransitive

1. To form words with the proper letters, either in reading or writing. He knows not how to spell Our orthography is so irregular that most persons never learn to spell

2. To read.