9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[koun-suh l] /ˈkaʊn səl/
noun, plural counsel for 3.
advice; opinion or instruction given in directing the judgment or conduct of another.
interchange of opinions as to future procedure; consultation; deliberation.
Law. (used with a singular or plural verb) the advocate or advocates engaged in the direction of a cause in court; a legal adviser or counselor:
Is counsel for the defense present?
deliberate purpose; plan; design.
Theology. one of the advisory declarations of Christ, considered by some Christians as not universally binding but as given for aid in attaining moral perfection.
Archaic. a private or secret opinion or purpose.
Obsolete. wisdom; prudence.
verb (used with object), counseled, counseling or (especially British) counselled, counselling.
to give advice to; advise.
to urge the adoption of, as a course of action; recommend (a plan, policy, etc.):
He counseled patience during the crisis.
verb (used without object), counseled, counseling or (especially British) counselled, counselling.
to give counsel or advice.
to get or take counsel or advice.
keep one's own counsel, to conceal one's ideas or opinions; keep silent.
take counsel, to ask for or exchange advice, ideas, or opinions; deliberate; consult.
Origin of counsel
1175-1225; (noun) Middle English counseil < Anglo-French cunseil, Old French conseil < Latin consilium debate, advice, advisory body, plan, equivalent to consil-, variant stem of consulere to apply for advice (see consult) + -ium -ium; (v.) < Anglo-French cunseiler (Old French conseillier) < Late Latin consiliāre, derivative of consilium
Related forms
counselable; especially British, counsellable, adjective
precounsel, noun, verb, precounseled, precounseling or (especially British) precounselled, precounselling.
recounsel, verb (used with object), recounseled, recounseling or (especially British) recounselled, recounselling.
uncounseled, adjective
uncounselled, adjective
well-counseled, adjective
well-counselled, adjective
Can be confused
consul, council, counsel (see usage note at council)
1. recommendation, suggestion. See advice. 3. lawyer, attorney; solicitor, barrister.
Usage note
See council. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for counsel
  • More worrisome, they have been denied access to legal counsel and face trial proceedings sealed to the public.
  • Should you be charged, you will have the right to counsel, but at this time you have no such right per se.
  • He meets with his ministers and generals, solicits their opinions, and keeps his own counsel.
  • Disease is the common enemy of mankind, and only through joint counsel and action can it be successfully fought.
  • Witness's counsel agreed to the break: forty-five minutes.
  • Each keeps its own counsel, cordially indifferent to its neighbors.
  • How well you are able to describe it, and how alien it sounds to me, your clever counsel.
  • Regarding investment ideas, get trusted counsel before signing papers.
British Dictionary definitions for counsel


advice or guidance on conduct, behaviour, etc
discussion, esp on future procedure; consultation: to take counsel with a friend
a person whose advice or guidance is or has been sought
a barrister or group of barristers engaged in conducting cases in court and advising on legal matters: counsel for the prosecution
a policy or plan
(Christianity) any of the counsels of perfection or evangelical counsels, namely poverty, chastity, and obedience
counsel of perfection, excellent but unrealizable advice
private opinions or plans (esp in the phrase keep one's own counsel)
(archaic) wisdom; prudence
verb -sels, -selling, -selled (US) -sels, -seling, -seled
(transitive) to give advice or guidance to
(transitive; often takes a clause as object) to recommend the acceptance of (a plan, idea, etc); urge
(intransitive) (archaic) to take counsel; consult
Derived Forms
counsellable, (US) counselable, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French counseil, from Latin consilium deliberating body; related to consul, consult
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for counsel

early 13c., from Old French counseil (10c.) "advice, counsel; deliberation, thought," from Latin consilium "plan, opinion" (see consultation). As a synonym for "lawyer," first attested late 14c.


late 13c., from Old French conseiller "to advise, counsel," from Latin consiliari, from consilium "plan, opinion" (see counsel (n.)). Related: Counseled. Counseling "giving professional advice on social or psychological problems" dates from 1940.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Idioms and Phrases with counsel


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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