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spell (something) for (someone or something)
1. Literally, to write or recite the letters in a word or name to help someone learn or understand it. I usually have to spell my name out for people because it's so unusual. I'm not sure I've heard that term before. Could you spell it for me?
2. To indicate, contribute to, or display signs of some outcome or status for a person, group, organization, country, etc. The sudden shortage of precious metals necessary to manufacture the computer chips spelled disaster for the fledgling tech company. The government is hoping that a massive reinvestment in the city's infrastructure will spell success for its economy.
See also: spell
To indicate, contribute to, or display signs of an impending and severe failure or disaster. The senator's refusal to negotiate spells disaster for the chances of the legislation to pass through both houses of congress. The sudden shortage of precious metals necessary to manufacture the computer chips spelled disaster for the fledgling tech company.
To be victorious over someone in a spelling competition (known as a "spelling bee" or "spelldown"). A noun or pronoun can be used between "spell" and "down." A first time contestant, she managed to spell down all 29 other competitors to win the city's 22nd annual spelling bee. He spelled Sarah Thompson with his correct spelling of the word "antidisestablishmentarianism."
1. verb To explain or go over something in detail. A noun or pronoun can be used between "spell" and "off." The manager started spelling off the rules again for the new people who had just joined the team.
2. verb To relieve or take the place of someone in some activity. A noun or pronoun can be used between "spell" and "off." You've been driving for nearly six hours. Let me spell you off so you can get a bit of sleep. The player managed to score three goals before his teammate spelled him off.
3. verb To engage in a spelling contest (with or against other people). Every student in the school will be spelling off against one another this weekend in our annual Fort Lauderdale Elementary School Spelling Bee!
4. noun A spelling contest, especially one in which the contestants recite spellings aloud and from memory. Often spelled with a hyphen. This year's spell-off should prove to be the most intense competition yet! The teacher organized a spell off for the class as a way to make the spelling lessons more fun.
To make something more comprehensible; to present the details of something to make it clear to understand. A noun or pronoun can be used between "spell" and "out." Sorry, but could you spell out your exact plan for us? It doesn't really seem to make sense. Mandy and I are going to get dinner and then a movie. It's a date—do I have to spell it out for you?
To foreshadow future problems. I'm worried that these dark clouds spell trouble for our day on the golf course. Police know very well that large crowds can spell trouble.
A spelling contest in which the contestants recite spellings aloud and from memory. Failure to spell a word correctly results in one's elimination from the contest. This year's spelling bee should prove to be the most intense competition yet! The teacher organized a spelling bee for the class as a way to make the spelling lessons more fun.
spend (something) for (something)
1. To spend some amount of money in order to purchase some product or service. I'd be willing to spend around $1,000 at most for a new refrigerator. If you spend the bare minimum for your computer, you can't expect it to give you top of the line performance.
2. To expend some amount of time doing something. A lot of people struggle to spend enough time for family when they are the primary earners in their households. I make a point of spending an hour each day for yoga and meditation. This new operating system is so large that you should expect to spend a couple hours for the installation.
See also: spend
spend (something) on (someone or something)
1. To spend some amount of money in order to pay for some product or service. I'd be willing to spend around $1,000 at most on a new refrigerator. If you spend the bare minimum on your computer, you can't expect it to give you top-of-the-line performance. It's insane to me that you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on college education.
2. To spend some amount of money for the benefit of someone else. I feel like my girlfriends spends too much money on me, but she always brushes it aside whenever I bring it up. My parents could never spend much on us when we were growing up, so I'm always a little incredulous toward parents who buy their kids whatever they want.
3. To expend some amount of time doing or working on This new operating system is so large that you should expect to spend a couple hours on the installation. I make a point of spending an hour each day on yoga and meditation. The reports should just be summaries, so don't spend too much time on them.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
spell someone down
to win over someone in a spelling match. Frank spelled everyone else down and won the spelling bee. He spelled down almost everyone.
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.
to signify future trouble; to mean trouble. This letter that came today spells trouble. The sky looks angry and dark. That spells trouble.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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."
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
To defeat someone in a spelling bee: My cousin spelled down 15 competitors to reach the finals. I finally spelled last year's champion down.
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.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.