AskDefine | Define tell

Dictionary Definition

Tell n : a Swiss patriot who lived in the early 14th century and who was renowned for his skill as an archer; according to legend an Austrian governor compelled him to shoot an apple from his son's head with his crossbow (which he did successfully without mishap) [syn: William Tell]


1 express in words; "He said that he wanted to marry her"; "tell me what is bothering you"; "state your opinion"; "state your name" [syn: state, say]
2 let something be known; "Tell them that you will be late"
3 narrate or give a detailed account of; "Tell what happened"; "The father told a story to his child" [syn: narrate, recount, recite]
4 give instructions to or direct somebody to do something with authority; "I said to him to go home"; "She ordered him to do the shopping"; "The mother told the child to get dressed" [syn: order, enjoin, say]
5 discern or comprehend; "He could tell that she was unhappy"
6 inform positively and with certainty and confidence; "I tell you that man is a crook!" [syn: assure]
7 give evidence; "he was telling on all his former colleague" [syn: evidence]
8 mark as different; "We distinguish several kinds of maple" [syn: distinguish, separate, differentiate, secern, secernate, severalize, severalise, tell apart]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • , /tɛl/, /tEl/
  • Rhymes: -ɛl

Etymology 1



  1. In the context of "transitive|or|ditransitive": To narrate.
    I want to tell a story.
    I want to tell you a story.
  2. To pass information by speech.
    You should tell her that you love her.
  3. To instruct or inform.
    Tell him to go away.
    Please tell me the time.
  4. To discern, notice, identify or distinguish.
    Can you tell whether those flowers are real or silk, from this distance?
    No, there's no way to tell.
  5. To have a marked effect
    The mace dealt a telling blow to his right shoulder.
  6. To count or enumerate (see teller)
  • (to instruct or inform): ask
to narrate
to pass information
  • German: sagen, erzählen
  • Irish: abair le
to instruct
  • German: sagen
  • Irish: abair le

Etymology 2

From the verb tell


  1. A giveaway sign, especially one used in the game of poker.

Etymology 3

From Arabic


  1. a mound in the Middle East over or consisting of the ruins of ancient settlements

Extensive Definition

Tell or tall (, tall, and , tel), meaning "hill" or "mound", is a type of archaeological site in the form of an earthen mound that results from the accumulation and subsequent erosion of material deposited by human occupation over long periods of time. A tell mostly consists of architectural building materials containing a high proportion of stone, mudbrick or loam as well as (to a minor extent) domestic refuse. The distribution of this phenomenon spans from the Indus valley in the east to Central Europe in the west. There are about 50,000 visible tells in the Middle East, a testament to the long settlement of the area.
The word is commonly used as a general term in archeology, particularly in Near Eastern archaeology. It is also sometimes used in a toponym, that is, as part of a town or city name, the best known example being the city of Tel Aviv (Hebrew, "Hill of [the season] Spring"), although Tel Aviv doesn't actually rest on a tell. A modern city is often located next to an ancient mound with a similar tell name, for example the city of Arad, Israel, is a few kilometers away from an ancient mound called Tel Arad. A proper use is in the case of the Tell of Akka, a hillock on which the actual city of Akka is situated.
Occasionally the word "tell" is misapplied to a site whose form does not warrant the designation. The site of Amarna in middle Egypt, frequently misnamed "Tell el-Amarna", is the best example of such an error; or the Tell Atlas () mountains in the Maghreb, whose naming is unrelated to the word "Tell".
The Turkish word for tell is höyük, as in Çatalhöyük, or tepe. Toponyms indicating settlement mounds in the Balkans are often translated as "grave": magoula or toumba (because small tells can be confused with burial mounds) in Thessaly and Macedonia. The word mogila is used in Bulgaria, gomila in Slovenia, and magura in Romania.


tell in Czech: Tel
tell in German: Tell (Archäologie)
tell in Spanish: Tell
tell in French: Tel (archéologie)
tell in Italian: Tell (archeologia)
tell in Hebrew: תל
tell in Dutch: Tell (archeologie)
tell in Polish: Osada tellowa
tell in Russian: Тепе
tell in Slovak: Tell
tell in Finnish: Tell
tell in Swedish: Tell

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acknowledge, acquaint, admit, advertise, advertise of, advise, affect, air, allegorize, amount to something, announce, apprise, approve, argue, articulate, ascertain, assert, asseverate, attest, aver, barrow, be effective, be featured, be influential, be persuasive, be prominent, be somebody, be something, berate, bespeak, betoken, betray, bid, blab, break, break it to, break the news, breathe, brief, bring out, bring to light, bring word, broadcast, call off, call over, call the roll, carry weight, castigate, censure, census, charge, chew out, chide, chime, chime in, chorus, clue, come home to, come out with, command, communicate, confess, confide, confide to, confirm, connote, convey, count, cut ice, cut some ice, declare, delineate, deliver, demonstrate, denote, depict, describe, determine, differentiate, direct, discern, disclose, discover, discriminate, display, disseminate, distinguish, divulgate, divulge, emit, enjoin, enlighten, enumerate, enunciate, evidence, evince, evulgate, exhibit, explain, express, fable, fabulize, familiarize, fictionalize, fill in, fling off, foliate, forecast, foresee, foretell, formulate, furnish evidence, get across, get over, get top billing, give, give a report, give away, give expression, give indication of, give notice, give out, give out with, give the facts, give tidings of, give tongue, give utterance, give vent to, give voice, give word, go to show, hand on, have, have an in, have full play, have influence, have personality, have pull, herald, hillock, hint at, hit, hit the mark, identify, illustrate, impart, imply, import, impress, impress forcibly, indicate, inform, instruct, intimate, involve, know, know again, leak, leave word, lecture, let get around, let in on, let know, let out, let slip, lip, make an impression, make known, make out, manifest, mark, matter, measure, mention, mention to, militate, mound, mouth, mythicize, mythify, mythologize, nail, narrate, notify, novelize, number, numerate, order, out with, outline, page, paginate, pass, pass along, pass on, peach, peg, perceive, phonate, phrase, place, point to, poll, portray, post, pour forth, predict, present, proclaim, pronounce, prophesy, publish, put, put forth, put in words, quantify, quantize, raise, rat, realize, rebuke, recall knowledge of, recite, recognize, recount, refer to, rehearse, reidentify, relate, release, render, report, reprimand, reproach, reprove, require, retell, reveal, rock, romance, rumor, run over, say, scold, send, send word, serve notice, set forth, share, share with, show, show signs of, signal, signalize, signify, sink in, smite, sound, speak, speak for itself, speak volumes, spill, spill the beans, spot, squeak, squeal, stand out, star, state, storify, strike, strike hard, strike home, suggest, swear, symptomatize, take to task, tale, talk, tally, tattle, tattle on, tell a story, tell off, tell on, tend to show, throw off, throw out, tick off, touch on, transfer, transmit, traumatize, trumpet, tumulus, understand, unfold a tale, utter, vent, ventilate, verbalize, verse, vocalize, voice, warn, weigh, whisper, word, write up
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