spell out(redirected from spelling out)
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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?
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.
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."
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.