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  1. tell
  2. verb

    • 1. communicate information, facts, or news to someone in spoken or written words:

      I told her you were coming “We have nothing in common,” she told him he's telling the truth we must be told the facts
      Synonym : inform, let know, notify, apprise, make aware, mention something to, acquaint with, advise, put in the picture, brief, fill in, break the news to, alert, warn, forewarn, clue in, speak, utter, say, voice, state, declare, communicate, make known, impart, divulge, announce, proclaim, broadcast, relate, recount, narrate, give an account of, set forth, unfold, retail, report, chronicle, recite, rehearse, describe, portray, sketch, delineate, depict, paint, weave, spin
    • 2. order, instruct, or advise (someone) to do something:

      tell him to go away
      Synonym : instruct, order, give orders, command, direct, charge, enjoin, call on, require, bid
    • 3. narrate or relate (a tale or story):

      he tried to make the children laugh by telling jokes tell me the story again
    • 4. reveal (information) to someone in a nonverbal way:

      the figures tell a different story the smile on her face told him everything
      Synonym : reveal, show, be/give evidence of, disclose, indicate, convey, signify, display, exhibit
    • 5. divulge confidential or private information:

      promise you won't tell
      Synonym : give the game away, talk, tell tales, open one's mouth, tattle, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, blab, blow the gaff
    • 6. inform someone of the misdemeanors of:

      friends don't tell on each other
      Synonym : inform on/against, tell tales on, give away, denounce, sell out, stab someone in the back, split on, blow the whistle on, rat on, peach on, squeal on, squeak on, stitch up, do the dirty on, sell down the river, grass on, sneak on, shop, rat out, drop a/the dime on, finger, dob on, pimp on, pool, shelf, put someone's pot on, delate
    • 7. decide or determine correctly or with certainty:

      you can tell they're in love
      Synonym : ascertain, decide, determine, work out, make out, deduce, discern, perceive, see, identify, recognize, understand, comprehend, be sure, be certain, figure out, get a fix on, suss out
    • 8. distinguish (one person or thing) from another; perceive (the difference) between one person or thing and another:

      I can't tell the difference between margarine and butter
      Synonym : distinguish, differentiate, tell apart, discriminate
    • 9. (of an experience or period of time) have a noticeable, typically harmful, effect on someone:

      the strain of supporting the family was beginning to tell on him
      Synonym : take its toll on, leave its mark on, have an adverse effect on, affect
    • 10. (of a particular factor) play a part in the success or otherwise of someone or something:

      lack of fitness told against him on his first run of the season
    • 11. count (the members of a series or group):

      the shepherd had told all his sheep


    • 1. (especially in poker) an unconscious action that is thought to betray an attempted deception.

  3. Variation

    • v.: verb: tell, 3rd person present: tells, gerund or present participle: telling, past tense: told, past participle: told

    • noun

      (in the Middle East) an artificial mound formed by the accumulated remains of ancient settlements.
    • verb

      communicate information to someone in spoken or written words:

      order or advise someone to do something:

    • noun

      (especially in poker) an unconscious action that is thought to betray an attempted deception.
    • noun

      (in the Middle East) an artificial mound formed by the accumulated remains of ancient settlements.
    • past and past participle of tell
    • past and past participle of tell
    • adjective

      revealing private or salacious details:
    • noun

      a biography or memoir that reveals intimate details about its subject.
    • make known or gossip about another person's secrets, wrongdoings, or faults
    • distinguish or separate one from another
    • be able to ascertain the time from reading the face of a clock or watch
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