Definition of counsel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkounsəl/


1Advice, especially that given formally.
Example sentences
  • As for the European Union, the situation is really bad, though wiser counsels may prevail in the next week or so.
  • In fact, this is only one of many wise counsels to the cautious buyer who fears being landed with a freshly minted or happily married antique.
  • To the spiritually minded he was rich in wise counsels.
advice, guidance, counseling, direction, information;
hints, recommendations, suggestions, guidelines, tips, pointers, warnings
1.1Consultation, especially to seek or give advice.
2 (plural same) The lawyer or lawyers conducting a case: the counsel for the defense
More example sentences
  • Your role as a defence counsel is to fearlessly advocate for the person you are representing.
  • In other words, the efforts of the defence counsel on a partial indemnity basis are justified.
  • Defence counsel and the accused waive this date for jury selection and trial.
lawyer, advocate, attorney, attorney-at-law, counselor;
chiefly British  solicitor, barrister

verb (counsels, counseling, counseled ; chiefly British counsels, counselling, counselled)

[with object]
1Give advice to (someone): he was counseled by his supporters to return to Germany
More example sentences
  • I would expect police officers to counsel the drivers on what is to be acquired.
  • In these new circumstances, he has counselled writers and intellectuals to be cautious.
  • In fact, she was counseled to remove her ear hoop for the forum, but she refused.
1.1Give professional psychological help and advice to (someone): he was being counseled for depression
More example sentences
  • If professionals fail to counsel patients in the way recognized by their peers as appropriate they may be negligent.
  • His wife is a psychologist who counsels cancer patients for a living.
  • She estimated that she's counselled about 400 people, almost all of them women, since founding the organisation.
1.2Recommend (a course of action): the athlete’s coach counseled caution
More example sentences
  • In fact, commanders counselled caution and warned that hasty judgements by the media would be premature!
  • The national development agency's study, which counselled caution, examined housing prices in 35 cities and urged authorities to prevent developing price distortions.
  • At most it counsels caution, prudence and a little more scepticism.
advise, recommend, direct, advocate, encourage, urge, warn, caution;
guide, give guidance



keep one's own counsel

Say nothing about what one believes, knows, or plans: she doubted what he said but kept her own counsel
More example sentences
  • Those without mistresses kept their own counsel.
  • ‘I have kept my own counsel but we know what we would do,’ he told the BBC last week.
  • Equally, I have kept my own counsel on promises that weren't kept to me at my first three clubs.

take counsel

Discuss a problem: the party leader and chairman took counsel together
More example sentences
  • She says the party has drifted away from roots over past 10 years with the leaders taking counsel from personal advisers and consultants instead of the party itself.
  • Alexis de Tocqueville wrote, in the 1830s, that the great constitutive power of the American republic was its town councils and rural communities, in which small assemblies of citizens took counsel for their immediate good.
  • A running back in his first year at Ohio State University, he has been taking counsel on the prospect of overturning the league regulations to earn himself a fast-track pass towards millionaire status.


Middle English: via Old French counseil (noun), conseiller (verb), from Latin consilium 'consultation, advice', related to consulere (see consult). Compare with council.

Words that rhyme with counsel

council, groundsel

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: coun·sel

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