Definition of sell in English:

sell

Syllabification: sell

verb (past and past participle sold /sōld/)

[with object]
1Give or hand over (something) in exchange for money: they had sold the car the family business had been sold off [with two objects]: I was trying to sell him my butterfly collection
More example sentences
  • The leasing driver has the chance to buy the car outright, renegotiate a lease, or they are sold to a car auction.
  • Is the site being sold to make money for Hackney council?
  • To clarify, I don't mind waiting until all the puppies are sold to collect money.
Synonyms
put up for sale, offer for sale, put on sale, dispose of, vend, auction (off); trade, barter
1.1Have a stock of (something) available for sale: the store sells hi-fis, TVs, videos, and other electrical goods
More example sentences
  • He says the stores that sell them are running stock clearance sales just now and they're to be had for a good price.
  • That means stocking, promoting and selling hunting products.
  • Specialist hi-fi stores do sell the high end famous brands as well: Toshiba, Sony, Pioneer, Marantz.
Synonyms
trade in, deal in, traffic in, stock, carry, offer for sale, peddle, hawk, retail, market
1.2 [no object] (Of a thing) be purchased: this magazine of yours won’t sell
More example sentences
  • If I sold at that price there is nowhere in the country I could get something similar.
  • They are more than dumb pieces of suede, fashioned by Spanish craftsmen and sold at a bargain price in a long forgotten shoe shop in Sevilla.
  • These were difficult to obtain on the open market and sold at premium prices.
Synonyms
go, be bought, be purchased; move, be in demandcost, be priced at, retail at, go for, be
1.3(Of a publication or recording) attain sales of (a specified number of copies): the album sold 6 million copies in the U.S.
More example sentences
  • The ensuing publicity about the big corporation versus the tiny magazine meant that the reprinted issue sold 400,000 copies.
  • With some issues now selling more than 200,000 copies, it is only a matter of time, she adds, before established titles feel the pain.
  • The last issue of Postworker sold just under 5000 copies.
1.4 [no object] (sell for/at) Be available for sale at (a specified price): these antiques sell for about $375
More example sentences
  • It sells for a relatively high price, so it turns a high profit.
  • We've noticed that houses are staying on the market longer, and that they are often selling for prices below asking.
  • Some sporting estates have sold for higher prices but they have come with agricultural businesses as tenant farms.
1.5 [no object] (sell out) Sell all of one’s stock of something: they had nearly sold out of the initial run of 75,000 copies
More example sentences
  • Our Dorking store has sold out of videos and other stores are saying that stocks are running low.
  • Linda told us that she took a bag full of Socialist Worker Miners' Strike specials and T-shirts, sold out of all of them, and even took orders for more.
  • I'm hoping they just sold out of the black and white, because I'd hate to think the color one was more popular.
Synonyms
have none left, be out of stock, have run out
informal be fresh out, be cleaned out
1.6 [no object] (sell out) Be all sold: it was clear that the performances would not sell out
More example sentences
  • Tickets for the play's 24 performances sold out in less than two days, the majority of them bought by one of the youngest audiences the theatre can recall.
  • Of the 24 professional performances, six sold out, and a further eight filled at least 85 per cent of the seats.
  • It's only the evening performances which are sold out.
Synonyms
be bought up, be depleted, be exhausted
1.7 [no object] (sell through) (Of a product) be purchased by a customer from a retail outlet.
More example sentences
  • Convenience goods are generally sold through many retail outlets so that buyers have easy access to the product.
  • In addition to catalog sales, Venus sells through its Jacksonville retail outlet and also distributes wholesale to surf shops and speciality stores worldwide.
  • Gateway sells through retail outlets, whereas Dell's business relies on the factory direct model.
1.8 [no object] (sell up) Sell all of one’s property, possessions, or assets: Ernest sold up and retired
More example sentences
  • He applied to Richmond Council to build houses and offices on the site, but the application was refused, so he sold up to property developers who have since submitted a succession of planning applications.
  • The owners are selling up to a property developer and will retire rich.
  • This limits movement around the market for existing home owners who are looking to sell up, grinding the property chain to a halt.
1.9 (sell oneself) Have sex in exchange for money: if she was going to sell herself then it would be as well not to come too cheap
More example sentences
  • The fact that women end up on the street selling themselves cheaply to get money for drugs is tragedy in itself.
  • During the time I spent living rough, I met many homeless people, girls and boys, who had started selling themselves for money.
  • In the course of his conversations with her, he told her that back in the day, things were so hard that he used to sell himself to make money!
1.10 archaic Offer (something) dishonorably for money or other reward; make a matter of corrupt bargaining: do not your lawyers sell all their practice, as your priests their prayers?
1.11 (sell someone out) Betray someone for one’s own financial or material benefit: the clansmen became tenants and the chiefs sold them out
More example sentences
  • I feel we have been sold out by the interim management team led by Mr Dawson.
  • In his acceptance speech, Patrick talked about the raw deal given the fishermen, that they were sold out by the government.
  • A lot of us are angry because we don't know what's happening and the people who have put quite a lot of years into the company feel they have been sold out.
1.12 [no object] (sell out) Abandon one’s principles for reasons of expedience: the prime minister has come under fire for selling out to the U.S.
More example sentences
  • Instead he berates him for abandoning his country and selling out to make money.
  • He believes the group has demonstrated that ‘independent drinks companies’ have a real alternative to selling out to one of the global drinks giants.
  • It is another thing entirely to be a corporate whore, selling out to the highest bidder because the CEO fattens your campaign chest.
Synonyms
abandon one's principles, prostitute oneself, sell one's soul, betray one's ideals, be untrue to oneself; debase oneself, degrade oneself, demean oneself
2Persuade someone of the merits of: he sold the idea of making a film about Tchaikovsky he could get work but he just won’t sell himself
More example sentences
  • Lecturing us on how to keep our linen cupboards tidy, we are being sold the idea that cleaning is cool and that a few crumbs under the toaster is an indication of failure.
  • With an eye on the commissions earned from these products brokers were cashing in on the equity craze at a time when the world was being sold the idea of building a share portfolio.
  • Politicians have been sold the idea that it is a big wealth-creating industry that must be cherished at all costs and now refuse to face the downside.
Synonyms
promote; persuade someone to accept, talk someone into, bring someone around to, win someone over to, win approval for
2.1Be the reason for (something) being bought: what sells CDs to most people is convenience
More example sentences
  • Fear of invasion was sold as the principal reason for the creation of the nation.
2.2Cause (someone) to become enthusiastic about: (as adjective sold) I’m just not sold on the idea
More example sentences
  • He worked in radio and sold Hollywood on the idea for the movie.
  • But trainer Rick Griffin sold Buhner on the idea that he could still be a contributor on the field and in the clubhouse.
  • Now Jerry had always wanted a poolroom, but knew he would have to sell Sherry on the idea.
3 archaic Trick or deceive (someone): what we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this show up, and sell the rest of the town

noun

informal Back to top  
1An act of selling or attempting to sell something: the excitement of scientific achievement is too subtle a sell to stir the public
More example sentences
  • We'll look at the tough sell facing our commerce secretary in Beijing.
  • For one, getting capital from skittish investors proved a tough sell.
  • Still, in Leadbetter's opinion, the sell here is the method, the program, the environment.
2A disappointment, typically one arising from being deceived as to the merits of something: actually, Hawaii’s a bit of a sell

Origin

Old English sellan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse selja 'give up, sell'. Early use included the sense 'give, hand (something) over voluntarily in response to a request'.

Phrases

sell someone a bill of goods

sell someone down the river

see river.

sell someone a (or the) dummy

see dummy.

sell someone a pup

see pup.

sell short

see short.

sell someone/something short

Fail to recognize or state the true value of: don’t sell yourself short—you’ve got what it takes
More example sentences
  • To say Christopher is a well-connected British gent is to sell him short.
  • In the same instance you shouldn't sell yourself short.
  • Neither does he sell himself short on the talent front.
Synonyms
undervalue, underrate, underestimate, disparage, deprecate, belittle
formal derogate

sell one's soul (to the devil)

Do or be willing to do anything, no matter how wrong it is, in order to achieve one’s objective: universities are selling their souls for commercial success
More example sentences
  • But when you sell your soul, no matter for what price, you die inside.
  • It's more like selling my soul to Satan, except I don't have anything to gain.
  • It doesn't take much intelligence to understand that once you have sold your soul to the devil, you can't buy it back.

Derivatives

sellable

adjective
More example sentences
  • The wonderful city of York, with its world famous charms, attracts more than four million visitors a year and is an extremely sellable destination overseas.
  • I think that makes the club more sellable, and I'm a bit more hopeful than I've been for the past few days.
  • Opening a distillery and producing a sellable whisky is even more difficult - unless you are lucky enough to buy one with all its equipment in working order and (most importantly) with aged whisky stock.

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