Definition for SPELL

SPELL, n. [Sax. spel or spell, a story, narration, fable, speech, saying, fame, report, sudden rumor, a magic charm or song. Hence gospel, Sax. god-spell; In G. spiel is play, sport; spielen, to play, D. speelen, Sw. spela, Dan. spiller. But this is a different application of the same action. The verb primarily signifies to throw or drive, and is probably formed on the root of L. pello, Gr. βαλλω. See Peal and Appeal, and Class Bl, No. 1, Eth. In some of the applications of spell, we observe the sense of turn. We observe the same in throw, warp, cant, &c.]

  1. A story; a tale. [Obs.] – Chaucer.
  2. A charm consisting of some words of occult power. Start not; her actions shall be holy; / You hear my spell is lawful. – Shak. Begin, begin, the mystic spell prepare. – Milton.
  3. A turn of work; relief; turn of duty. Take a spell at the pump. – Seamen. Their toil is so extreme, that they can not endure it above four hours in a day, but are succeeded by spells. – Carew.
  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. – N. England.

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