spell out


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spell something out

 
1. Lit. to spell something (with letters). I can't understand your name. Can you spell it out? Please spell out all the strange words so I can write them down correctly.
2. Fig. to give all the details of something. I want you to understand this completely, so I'm going to spell it out very carefully. The instruction book for my computer spells out everything very carefully.
See also: out, spell

spell out something

also spell something out
to explain something in detail Students have been given a fact sheet that spells out how AIDS is transferred. The company has a very strict dress code, and they spell it out for you when you start working there.
See also: out, spell

spell out

1. Make plain, clarify, as in We asked her to spell out her objectives. [c. 1940]
2. Read slowly and laboriously, as in He was only six but he managed to spell out the instructions. [Early 1800s]
3. Puzzle out, manage to understand with some effort, as in It took years before anyone could spell out the inscriptions on the Rosetta Stone. [Late 1600s] All three usages transfer spell in the sense of "proceed letter by letter."
See also: out, spell

spell out

v.
1. To name or write in order the letters constituting some word or part of a word: I spelled out my name for the telephone operator. The student spelled each out each word on the spelling test.
2. To give a detailed and literal statement of something in order to make it perfectly clear and understandable: The committee demanded that he spell out his objectives. She didn't understand the penalties at first, but we spelled them out for her.
See also: out, spell