—spellable, adj.v.t.1. to name, write, or otherwise give the letters, in order, of (a word, syllable, etc.): Did I spell your name right?2. (of letters) to form (a word, syllable, etc.): The letters spelled a rather rude word.3. to read letter by letter or with difficulty (often fol. by out): She painfully spelled out the message.4. to discern or find, as if by reading or study (often fol. by out).5. to signify; amount to: This delay spells disaster for us.v.i.6. to name, write, or give the letters of words, syllables, etc.: He spells poorly.7. to express words by letters, esp. correctly.8. spell down, to outspell others in a spelling match.9. spell out,a. to explain something explicitly, so that the meaning is unmistakable: Must I spell it out for you?b. to write out in full or enumerate the letters of which a word is composed: The title "Ph.D." is seldom spelled out.[1250-1300; ME spellen < OF espeller < Gmc; cf. OE spellian to talk, announce (deriv. of spell SPELL2), OHG -spellon, ON spjalla, Goth spillon]Syn. 5. foretell, portend, mean, promise.spell2—spellful, adj. —spell-like, adj./spel/, n.1. a word, phrase, or form of words supposed to have magic power; charm; incantation: The wizard cast a spell.2. a state or period of enchantment: She was under a spell.3. any dominating or irresistible influence; fascination: the spell of fine music.spell3/spel/, n.1. a continuous course or period of work or other activity: to take a spell at the wheel.2. a turn of work so taken.3. a turn, bout, fit, or period of anything experienced or occurring: a spell of coughing.4. an indefinite interval or space of time: Come visit us for a spell.5. a period of weather of a specified kind: a hot spell.6. Australian. a rest period.7. Archaic. a person or set of persons taking a turn of work to relieve another.v.t.8. to take the place of for a time; relieve: Let me spell you at the wheel.9. Australian. to declare or give a rest period to.v.i.10. Australian. to have or take a rest period.[1585-95; (v.) alter. of earlier spele to stand instead of, relieve, spare, ME spelen, OE spelian; akin to OE spala, gespelia a substitute; (n.) akin to the v. (perh. continuing OE gespelia)]Syn. 4. while, bit, piece.
* * *▪ magicwords uttered in a set formula with magical (magic) intent. The correct recitation, often with accompanying gestures, is considered to unleash supernatural power. Some societies believe that incorrect recitation can not only nullify the magic but cause the death of the practitioner.The language of spells is sometimes archaic and is not always understood by the reciter. In some cases meaningless but familiar terms are believed to be efficacious because of their traditional value. Much magical language, however, is clearly and directly correlated with the aim of the recital. In symbolic statement by analogy it represents and foreshadows the technical achievement, and metaphor and simile are freely used. An example is a Maori spell giving speed and grace to a canoe, which speaks of the swiftness of a bird on the wing and the lightness of a sea gull and which uses such onomatopoeic effects as speed noises or the wailing of the sea.In blessings and curses, which are similar types of verbal expressions, the efficacy of the recitation is also believed to be connected to the magical power of the words themselves or to the sacred power of a supernatural being. Certain gestures as well as words may be bound up with the act of blessing, as in putting one's hands on the head of the person being blessed. The curse, a wish to cause harm or misfortune, is usually directed against others, although an important form of curse, associated with oaths, contracts, and treaties, is conditionally directed against oneself, should one fail to keep one's word or tell the truth.
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