tell

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tell1 / tel/ • v. (past told / tōld/ ) 1. communicate information, facts, or news to someone in spoken or written words: [tr.] I told her you were coming | [tr.] “We have nothing in common,” she told him | [tr.] he's telling the truth | we must be told the facts. ∎  [tr.] order, instruct, or advise (someone) to do something: tell him to go away. ∎  [tr.] narrate or relate (a tale or story). ∎  [tr.] reveal (information) to someone in a nonverbal way: the figures tell a different story | the smile on her face told him everything. ∎  [intr.] divulge confidential or private information: promise you won't tell. ∎  [intr.] (tell on) inf. inform someone of the misdemeanors of: friends don't tell on each other. 2. decide or determine correctly or with certainty: you can tell they're in love. ∎  [tr.] 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. 3. [intr.] (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. ∎  (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. 4. [tr.] archaic count (the members of a series or group): the shepherd had told all his sheep. • n. (esp. in poker) an unconscious behavior that is thought to betray an attempted deception. PHRASES: as far as one can tell judging from the available information. I tell you (or I can tell you) used to emphasize a statement: that took me by surprise, I can tell you! I (or I'll) tell you what used to introduce a suggestion: I tell you what, why don't we meet for lunch tomorrow? I told you (so) used as a way of pointing out that one's warnings, although ignored, have been proved to be well founded. tell one's beadssee bead. tell someone's fortunesee fortune. tell it like it is inf. describe the facts of a situation no matter how unpleasant they may be. tell its own tale (or story) be significant or revealing, without any further explanation or comment being necessary: the worried expression on Helen's face told its own tale. tell me about it inf. used as an ironic acknowledgment of one's familiarity with a difficult or unpleasant situation or experience described by someone else. tell me another inf. used as an expression of disbelief or incredulity. tell something a mile offsee mile. tell tales make known or gossip about another person's secrets, wrongdoings, or faults. tell it to the marinessee marine. tell time be able to ascertain the time from reading the face of a clock or watch. tell someone where to get off (or where they get off) inf. angrily dismiss or rebuke someone. tell someone where to put (or what to do with) something inf. angrily or emphatically reject something: I told him what he could do with his diamond. that would be telling inf. used to convey that one is not prepared to divulge secret or confidential information. there is no telling used to convey the impossibility of knowing what has happened or will happen: there's no telling how she will react. to tell (you) the truth used as a preface to a confession or admission of something. you're telling me! inf. used to emphasize that one is already well aware of something or in complete agreement with a statement.PHRASAL VERBS: tell someone off inf. reprimand or scold someone: my parents told me off for coming home late. DERIVATIVES: tell·a·ble adj. tell2 • n. Archaeol. (in the Middle East) an artificial mound formed by the accumulated remains of ancient settlements.