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verb spell pronunciation in British English /spel/ 
Word Forms
present tense
present participlespelling
past tensespelt or spelled
past participlespelt or spelled
  1. 1
    [transitive] to know the letters of a word in the correct order

    Can you spell the word 'beautiful'?

    1. a.
      [transitive] to say or write the letters of a word in the correct order

      You've spelt my name wrong.

    2. b.
      [intransitive] to have a good knowledge of the way that words are written

      Her writing is neat, but she can't spell.

  2. 2
    [transitive] to show that something is going to happen, usually something bad

    The news spelled the death of the US car industry.

    spell disaster/trouble:

    There's a determined look about him which can only spell trouble for his rivals.

  3. 3
    [transitive] American informal to do someone's work for a short time, so that they can rest

    I'd better go spell Mitch for a couple of hours.

phrasal verbs


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