Children's, Intermediate and Advanced Online English Dictionary & Thesaurus

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parts of speech:
transitive verb, intransitive verb
Word Combinations (verb), Note, Word Explorer
part of speech: transitive verb
inflections: tells, telling, told
definition 1: to express verbally; relate in spoken or written words.
In her book, the author tells the story of a young orphaned girl.He had told a lie, and now he regretted it.Please tell me what happened that day.She told me that she regretted what happened.
impart, relate
similar words:
announce, bid, communicate, express, narrate, recount, repeat, report, speak, spin, verbalize, write
definition 2: to provide (someone) with information.
He told me about the accident.
apprise, enlighten, inform
similar words:
acquaint, advise, announce, clue, communicate, notify
definition 3: to make known; divulge.
He'll never tell the secret.You'll have to tell me the truth now.
disclose, divulge, reveal, spill
similar words:
apprise, give away, impart, leak, repeat, report
definition 4: to command or direct.
She told the children to behave nicely at their grandmother's.I told the movers to put the piano in the living room.He told her not to drive home in the snowstorm.
command, demand, direct, instruct, order
similar words:
bid, charge, dictate, require
definition 5: to distinguish.
He can't tell the difference between butter and margarine.Can you tell if this meat is still fresh?
discern, distinguish
similar words:
differentiate, discriminate, know, see
part of speech: intransitive verb
definition 1: to give an account, description, or report.
He told of his travels in South America.
narrate, report
similar words:
recite, speak
definition 2: to give evidence.
Her success tells of her hard work.
definition 3: to reveal a secret or private matter.
I know the secret, but I'm not telling.
confide, talk, unbosom
similar words:
confess, inform, leak, rat
definition 4: to have some pronounced effect or impact (fol. by "on").
Stress tells on her ability to concentrate.
Word CombinationsSubscriber feature About this feature
tell or say?
Say is used to report the words that someone spoke. Tell is used to report an act of communication between people. The emphasis with say is on words. The emphasis with tell is on both the person who receives a message and the message itself.
  • She said that she was sick
  • She told me that she was sick.
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  communication, literature