Definition of sell in English:

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Pronunciation: /sɛl/

verb (past and past participle sold /səʊld/)

[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.
dispose of, get rid of, vend, auction (off);
put up for sale, offer for sale, put on sale;
trade, barter, exchange, part-exchange, give in part-exchange
vending, selling off, auctioning, trading, trade (in);
traffic, trafficking, barter, bartering, exchange, exchanging, part-exchange, part-exchanging
salesmanship, sales, marketing, merchandising, promotion, advertising
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.
trade in, deal in, be in the business of, traffic in, stock, carry, offer for sale, handle, peddle, hawk, retail, market, advertise, promote
1.2 [no object] Be purchased in specified amounts or for a specified price: the album sold 6 million copies in the United States this magazine of yours won’t sell these antiques of the future sell for about £375
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.
be bought, be purchased, go;
sell like hot cakes, move, be in demand
be priced at, sell at, retail at, go for, be, be found for, be trading at, cost
1.3 [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.
have none left, be out of stock of, have run out of, have sold all one's …
informal be fresh out of, be cleaned out of
1.4 [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.
be bought up, be depleted, be exhausted
1.5 [no object] (sell through) (Of a product) be purchased by a customer from a retail outlet.
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.
1.6 [no object] (sell up) British 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.
1.7 (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!
1.8 [no object] (sell out) Abandon one’s principles for reasons of expedience: the prime minister has come under fire for selling out to the United States
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.
abandon one's principles, prostitute oneself, sell one's soul, betray one's cause/ideals, be untrue to oneself, go over to the other side, play false, sacrifice oneself, debase oneself, degrade oneself, demean oneself
1.9 (sell someone out) Betray someone for one’s own 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.
betray, inform on/against;
be disloyal to, be unfaithful to, desert, break one's promise to, double-cross, break faith with, stab in the back
informal tell on, sell down the river, blow the whistle on, squeal on, stitch up, peach on, do the dirty on
British informal grass on, shop
North American informal rat out, finger, drop a/the dime on
Australian informal pimp on, pool, put someone's pot on
1.10 archaic Offer (something) dishonourably for money or other reward: do not your lawyers sell all their practice, as your priests their prayers?
2Persuade someone of the merits of: he sold the idea of making a film about Tchaikovsky 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.
persuade someone to accept, convince someone of the merits of, talk someone into, bring someone round to, win someone over to, get acceptance for, win approval for, get support for, get across, promote
2.1 (sell someone on) Cause someone to become enthusiastic about: 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


1An act of selling or attempting to sell something: every other television commercial is a sell for Australian lager
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.
2British A disappointment, typically one arising from being deceived as to the merits of something: actually, Hawaii’s a bit of a sell—not a patch on Corfu



sell someone a bill of goods


sell someone down the river

see river.

sell someone a (or the) dummy

see dummy.

sell the pass

see pass2.

sell someone a pup

see pup.

sell someone/thing short

see short.
Example sentences
  • And I think what Ann said on your show a while ago is, true, do not sell this guy short.
  • Don't sell your results short by buying some cheap supplement just because you're getting a deal.
  • He should have value as a utility-type player, but don't sell him short.

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: it is very easy to get to the top of any employment structure if you are prepared to sell your soul
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.



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.


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'.

  • An Old English word that originally meant ‘to give, hand over in response to a request’. The longer version of the expression sell your soul, ‘to do absolutely anything to achieve your objective’, is sell your soul to the devil. Over the centuries various people reputedly agreed to give their soul to the devil if in return he would grant them all their heart's desires in this life. The most famous person alleged to have made such a pact was the 16th-century German astronomer and necromancer Faust, whose story inspired Christopher Marlowe's play Doctor Faustus, and gives us the expression Faustian (late 19th century) as in Faustian pact. Sale (Old English) comes via Old Norse from the same Germanic root as sell. Use of the word for selling goods at a lower price than before dates from the mid 19th century.

Words that rhyme with sell

Adele, Aix-la-Chapelle, aquarelle, artel, au naturel, bagatelle, béchamel, befell, bell, belle, boatel, Brunel, Cadell, carousel, cartel, cell, Chanel, chanterelle, clientele, Clonmel, compel, Cornell, crime passionnel, dell, demoiselle, dispel, dwell, el, ell, Estelle, excel, expel, farewell, fell, Fidel, fontanelle, foretell, Gabrielle, gazelle, gel, Giselle, hell, hotel, impel, knell, lapel, mademoiselle, maître d'hôtel, Manuel, marcel, matériel, mesdemoiselles, Michel, Michelle, Miguel, misspell, morel, moschatel, Moselle, motel, muscatel, nacelle, Nell, Nobel, Noel, organelle, outsell, Parnell, pell-mell, personnel, propel, quell, quenelle, rappel, Raquel, Ravel, rebel, repel, Rochelle, Sahel, sardelle, shell, show-and-tell, smell, Snell, spell, spinel, swell, tell, undersell, vielle, villanelle, well, yell

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