verb (pastand past participle told /tōld/)
- 1 [reporting verb] Communicate information, facts, or news to someone in spoken or written words: [with object and clause]: I told her you were coming [with object and direct speech]: “We have nothing in common,” she told him [with object]: he’s telling the truth [with two objects]: we must be told the factsMore example sentences
inform, notify, apprise, let know, make aware, acquaint with, advise, put in the picture, brief, fill in; alert, warn• informal clue in/uprelate, recount, narrate, unfold, report, recite, describe, sketch, weave, spin; utter, voice, state, declare, communicate, impart, divulge
- In other words, telling the plain truth probably would have been sufficient.
- Dad was still telling me how proud he was of me.
- One doctor told the conference he sees 50 patients a day.
- 1.1 [with object and infinitive] Order, instruct, or advise (someone) to do something: tell him to go awayMore example sentences
- With a standing order, you tell your bank to pay a fixed sum at a regular interval to an organisation or individual.
- The jury normally receives an order from the court telling it to accept the laws as they are.
- The same lawyers told him to bring charges to a civil court and the sports court of arbitrage.
- 1.2 [with object] Narrate or relate (a tale or story).More example sentences
- Talking about bears leads him to tell an amazing bear story, which becomes our film with Harris narrating as he tells the story.
- They do that by telling great stories and tales from wherever they are.
- The autobiographical narrator tells her story not because of her ‘mundane life’ but in spite of it.
- 1.3 [with object] Reveal (information) to someone in a nonverbal way: the figures tell a different story [with two objects]: the smile on her face told him everythingMore example sentences
reveal, show, indicate, be evidence of, disclose, convey, signify
- Within families a lot happens on the periphery and the most telling details are often seen out of the corner of one's eye.
- Lauren relates her story in a simple time sequence and gives telling details which make the narration gripping.
- However, a more telling statistic would be loss and damage rate per 1,000 weapons passes.
- 1.4 [no object] Divulge confidential or private information: promise you won’t tell
- 1.5 [no object] (tell on) • informal Inform someone of the misdemeanors of: friends don’t tell on each otherMore example sentences
- ‘There are many cases where students have been told they'll be kicked out if they don't tell on their friends,’ says Manfred.
- Luckily for both of us, Tanya was not in the room at the time so she would never know about any of what happened because I knew that none of my friends were going to tell on me.
- And then you can send off vindictive messages to the spammers, telling them you told on them.
- 2 [with clause] Decide or determine correctly or with certainty: you can tell they’re in loveMore example sentences
- She can tell that for once Jason is surprised and she decides that that is a good thing.
- You can tell that they're starting to like you, that they want to trust you.
- I can tell that this is going to be one of those long-winded, rambling posts about nothing at all.
- 2.1 [with object] 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 butterMore example sentences
- He can't tell the difference between the truth and what his lawyer is telling him.
- Personally, I can't tell the difference between diamonds and bits of clear broken glass!
- He's the only person at the bar who can't tell the difference between beer and water.
- 3 [no object] (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 himMore example sentences
- We just did six gigs in seven days so it's told on him a bit.
- The pressure told on both sets of players as the game got bogged down in a midfield melee with precious little invention from the teams.
- Confinement and want of fresh air was beginning to tell on her health and spirits.
- 3.1(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 seasonMore example sentences
- Five pit stops against the winner's two was what told against the other two pilots.
- His personal failings also seem to have increased the strain and told against him.
- I believe one of them spoke of how her size had told against her when auditioning, even though her voice had been quite acceptable.
- 4 [with object] • archaic Count (the members of a series or group): the shepherd had told all his sheepMore example sentences
- He told the number of girls and officers standing in a line.
- He told the number of school that they had established, and how they obtained their scholars.
nounBack to top
- (Especially in poker) an unconscious action that is thought to betray an attempted deception.More example sentences
- But I think you could waste a poker lifetime looking for tells like those.
- Authentic tells are unbeknownst to the player and are unconscious.
- This book teaches you how to interpret tells, such as subtle shrugs, sighs, shaky hands, eye contact and much, much more.
as far as one can tell
- Judging from the available information.More example sentences
- Well, does he understand, as far as you could tell, what kind of trouble he potentially is in unless he changes some of his positions?
- And so, what's the basic solution, as far as you can tell?
- What is this lawsuit, as far as you can tell, really about?
I tell you (or I can tell you)
- Used to emphasize a statement: that took me by surprise, I can tell you!More example sentences
- Can I tell you, though, what else we saw were people who were on the verge of dying.
- Now, I tell you, does this not sound like a movie that is well worth seeing?
- Although I tell you, I am so very much not at my swiftest after I've been asleep for a couple of hours.
I (or I'll) tell you what
- Used to introduce a suggestion: I tell you what, why don’t we meet for lunch tomorrow?More example sentences
- You can be optimistic, but I'll tell you what, don't let your guard down.
- Listen, if you don't like it, I'll tell you what: sublet me your place.
- But I'll tell you what, I'll gladly donate my tax cut to a worthy charity if you will.
I told you (so)
- Used as a way of pointing out that one’s warnings, although ignored, have been proved to be well founded.More example sentences
- If you are against the war, you look at those images and say, ‘See, I told you so.’
- I hate to say ‘I told you so yet again,’ but, I told you so.
- No matter how constructive or well meant, this week's people aren't interested in criticism, so don't say I told you so - even if you did.
tell one's beads
- see bead.
tell someone's fortune
- see fortune.
tell it like it is
- • informal Describe the facts of a situation no matter how unpleasant they may be.More example sentences
- Her willingness to tell it like it is without apology keeps her work, no matter how widespread her critical acclaim, out of the mainstream.
- They're saying we've told it like it is, and rather like the programmes.
- And what if people were straightforward and told it like it is?
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 taleMore example sentences
- The frayed and severed string told its own tale.
- The hearty round of applause told its own story.
- Her worn and malnourished face told its own story.
tell me about it
tell me another
- • informal Used as an expression of disbelief or incredulity.More example sentences
- "Oh yeah, tell me another," Larry snarls.
- So we have to take his word that it lets out less fumes than a two-wheeler (oh, yes, tell me another) and that it won't clog up our roads.
tell something a mile off
- see mile.
- Make known or gossip about another person’s secrets, wrongdoings, or faults.More example sentences
- "You mustn't tell tales," was Grace's frank answer.
- We all know that we mustn't tell tales our mothers or teachers probably punished us when we did so as children.
tell it to the marines
- see marine.
- Be able to ascertain the time from reading the face of a clock or watch.More example sentences
- A supermarket worker was able to tell the time on a digital watch but not on the analogue clock in the staff canteen.
- He reasoned that the movement of a ship was guided by skilled intelligence, and a sundial or water clock told the time by design rather than by chance.
- I have a digital/analogue watch that tells the time in 42 countries, solar powered, alarm, stopwatch, date, waterproof to 100 metres.
tell someone where to get off (or where they get off)
- • informal Angrily dismiss or rebuke someone.More example sentences
- At 21, if I approached a 40-year-old hard-nut comedian to play my new little comedy club in York, they'd probably tell me where to get off!
- Yeah I would have told him where to get off after he acted like a jerk about the evidence you mentioned.
- But I told him where to get off and he hasn't spoken to me since.
tell someone where to put (or what to do with) something
- • informal Angrily or emphatically reject something: I told him what he could do with his diamondMore example sentences
- The county council visited the Church Area Council and the residents' views were that they did not want them and they told them where to put it.
- But seriously, though, if I don't like where you have got it, I can tell you where to put it, sort to speak.
- I may very well have told him where to put his donation!
that would be telling
- • informal Used to convey that one is not prepared to divulge secret or confidential information.More example sentences
- Last year, my gifts were mostly made up of all the books that had inspired me in the previous year, coupled with small cartoon-like cards; and this year… well, that would be telling.
- ‘One of them is quite famous but that would be telling,’ Tim teases.
- Well, that would be telling now, wouldn't it?
there is no telling
- Used to convey the impossibility of knowing what has happened or will happen: there’s no telling how she will reactMore example sentences
- He is safe and unharmed physically, but when you see people jump from buildings and been part of such a terrible ordeal, there is no telling what he may have suffered psychologically.
- With bricks going through the windows, there is no telling what injuries could have been caused.
- And he couldn't draw up a plan for his sculptures for one simple reason: The river supplies his materials, and there is no telling what the river will bring.
to tell (you) the truth
- see truth.More example sentences
- ‘The only thing I fall in love with is my dog, to tell you the truth,’ he confesses.
- I don't think there's much hate in it at all: to tell you the truth, it's actually quite interesting.
- Well, to tell you the truth, I was actually glad they were going to eat lunch with me.
you're telling me!
- • informal Used to emphasize that one is already well aware of something or in complete agreement with a statement.More example sentences
- You're telling me. It's so hard.
tell someone off
- • informal Reprimand or scold someone: my parents told me off for coming home lateMore example sentences
- Somehow he could never tell her off or scold her when she looked at him like that.
- Richard tends to be much stricter with Lucie in general and is fed up of being the bad guy who tells Lucie off and reprimands her.
- Teachers' leaders are now calling for a ban on mobile phones in the classroom because children are using them to text message or speak to their parents as soon as they have been told off.
- More example sentences
- I mentioned in Chapter 2 that ‘narrative display texts’, a class which includes both literary narratives and stories people tell one another, circulate because their stories are tellable, ‘worth it’.
- Therefore, instead of a final dispensation, the story of a monster at the limit of the tellable concludes irresolutely, even incoherently.
- Stories must be tellable in quick, simple images.
Old English tellan 'relate, count, estimate', of Germanic origin; related to German zählen 'reckon, count', erzählen 'recount, relate', also to tale.
- (In the Middle East) an artificial mound formed by the accumulated remains of ancient settlements.More example sentences
- He narrowly escaped being blown up by a mine when he was exploring a tell outside the city.
- Ancient cities are now identified by the mounds raised above the surrounding terrain, called tells.
- In the digital elevation model the small conical mound of a tell is represented by a characteristic point pattern, superposed onto the natural topography.
mid 19th century: from Arabic tall 'hillock'.