Preferred term: incantation

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1. To tell; to relate; to teach. "Might I that legend find, By fairies spelt in mystic rhymes." (T. Warton)

2. To put under the influence of a spell; to affect by a spell; to bewitch; to fascinate; to charm. "Spelled with words of power." "He was much spelled with Eleanor Talbot." (Sir G. Buck)

3. To constitute; to measure. "The Saxon heptarchy, when seven kings put together did spell but one in effect." (Fuller)

4. To tell or name in their proper order letters of, as a word; to write or print in order the letters of, especially. The proper letters; to form, as words, by correct orthography. "The word "satire" ought to be spelled with i, and not with y." (Dryden)

5. To discover by characters or marks; to read with difficulty; usually with out; as, to spell out the sense of an author; to spell out a verse in the Bible. "To spell out a God in the works of creation." (South) "To sit spelling and observing divine justice upon every accident." (Milton)

Origin: OE. Spellen, spellien, tell, relate, AS. Spellian, fr. Spell a saying, tale; akin to MHG. Spellen to relate, Goth. Spilln.e Spell a tale. In sense 4 and those following, OE. Spellen, perhaps originally a different word, and from or influenced by spell a splinter, from the use of a piece of wood to point to the letters in schools: cf. D. Spellen to spell. Cf. Spell splinter.

(01 Mar 1998)

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