[ spel-ing ]
/ ˈspɛl ɪŋ /


the manner in which words are spelled; orthography.
a group of letters representing a word.
the act of a speller.

Origin of spelling

1400–50; late Middle English (gerund); see spell1, -ing1

Definition for spelling (2 of 3)

spell 1
[ spel ]
/ spɛl /

verb (used with object), spelled or spelt, spell·ing.

verb (used without object), spelled or spelt, spell·ing.

to name, write, or give the letters of words, syllables, etc.: He spells poorly.
to express words by letters, especially correctly.

Verb Phrases

spell down, to outspell others in a spelling match.
spell out,
  1. to explain something explicitly, so that the meaning is unmistakable: Must I spell it out for you?
  2. to write out in full or enumerate the letters of which a word is composed: The title “Ph.D.” is seldom spelled out.

Origin of spell

1250–1300; Middle English spellen < Old French espeller < Germanic; compare Old English spellian to talk, announce (derivative of spell spell2), Old High German -spellōn, Old Norse spjalla, Gothic spillōn


spell·a·ble, adjective un·spell·a·ble, adjective

Definition for spelling (3 of 3)

spell 3
[ spel ]
/ spɛl /


verb (used with object)

to take the place of for a time; relieve: Let me spell you at the wheel.
Australian. to declare or give a rest period to.

verb (used without object)

Australian. to have or take a rest period.

Origin of spell

1585–95; (v.) alteration of earlier spele to stand instead of, relieve, spare, Middle English spelen, Old English spelian; akin to Old English spala, gespelia a substitute; (noun) akin to the v. (perhaps continuing Old English gespelia)

Example sentences from the Web for spelling

British Dictionary definitions for spelling (1 of 4)

/ (ˈspɛlɪŋ) /


the act or process of writing words by using the letters conventionally accepted for their formation; orthography
the art or study of orthography
the actual way in which a word is spelt
the ability of a person to spell John's spelling is good

British Dictionary definitions for spelling (2 of 4)

spell 1
/ (spɛl) /

verb spells, spelling, spelt or spelled

to write or name in correct order the letters that comprise the conventionally accepted form of (a word or part of a word)
(tr) (of letters) to go to make up the conventionally established form of (a word) when arranged correctly d-o-g spells dog
(tr) to indicate or signify such actions spell disaster for our cause
See also spell out

Derived forms of spell

spellable, adjective

Word Origin for spell

C13: from Old French espeller, of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse spialla to talk, Middle High German spellen

British Dictionary definitions for spelling (3 of 4)

spell 2
/ (spɛl) /


a verbal formula considered as having magical force
any influence that can control the mind or character; fascination
a state induced by or as if by the pronouncing of a spell; trance to break the spell
under a spell held in or as if in a spell


(tr) rare to place under a spell

Word Origin for spell

Old English spell speech; related to Old Norse spjall tale, Gothic spill, Old High German spel

British Dictionary definitions for spelling (4 of 4)

spell 3
/ (spɛl) /


an indeterminate, usually short, period of time a spell of cold weather
a period or tour of duty after which one person or group relieves another
Scot, Australian and NZ a period or interval of rest


(tr) to take over from (a person) for an interval of time; relieve temporarily
spell a paddock NZ to give a field a rest period by letting it lie fallow

Word Origin for spell

Old English spelian to take the place of, of obscure origin

Idioms and Phrases with spelling