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reel1

[reel] /ril/
noun
1.
a cylinder, frame, or other device that turns on an axis and is used to wind up or pay out something.
2.
a rotatory device attached to a fishing rod at the butt, for winding up or letting out the line.
3.
Photography.
  1. a spool on which film, especially motion-picture film, is wound.
  2. a roll of motion-picture film.
  3. a holder for roll film in a developing tank.
4.
a quantity of something wound on a reel.
5.
Chiefly British. a spool of sewing thread; a roller or bobbin of sewing thread.
verb (used with object)
6.
to wind on a reel, as thread, yarn, etc.
7.
to unwind (silk filaments) from a cocoon.
8.
to pull or draw by winding a line on a reel:
to reel a fish in.
Verb phrases
9.
reel off, to say, write, or produce quickly and easily:
The old sailor reeled off one story after another.
Idioms
10.
off the reel,
  1. without pause; continuously.
  2. without delay or hesitation; immediately.
Also, right off the reel.
Origin
1050
before 1050; (noun) Middle English rele, Old English hrēol; cognate with Old Norse hræll weaver's rod; (v.) Middle English relen, derivative of rele
Related forms
reelable, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for reeling off

reel1

/riːl; rɪəl/
noun
1.
any of various cylindrical objects or frames that turn on an axis and onto which film, magnetic tape, paper tape, wire, thread, etc, may be wound US equivalent spool
2.
(angling) a device for winding, casting, etc, consisting of a revolving spool with a handle, attached to a fishing rod
3.
a roll of celluloid exhibiting a sequence of photographs to be projected
verb (transitive)
4.
to wind (cotton, thread, etc) onto a reel
5.
foll by in, out etc. to wind or draw with a reel: to reel in a fish
Derived Forms
reelable, adjective
reeler, noun
Word Origin
Old English hrēol; related to Old Norse hrǣll weaver's rod, Greek krekein to weave

reel2

/riːl; rɪəl/
verb (mainly intransitive)
1.
to sway, esp under the shock of a blow or through dizziness or drunkenness
2.
to whirl about or have the feeling of whirling about: his brain reeled
noun
3.
a staggering or swaying motion or sensation
Word Origin
C14 relen, probably from reel1

reel3

/riːl; rɪəl/
noun
1.
any of various lively Scottish dances, such as the eightsome reel and foursome reel for a fixed number of couples who combine in square and circular formations
2.
a piece of music having eight quavers to the bar composed for or in the rhythm of this dance
Word Origin
C18: from reel²
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 reeling off

reel

n.

"frame turning on an axis," especially one on which thread is wound, late Old English hreol "reel for winding thread," from Proto-Germanic *hrehulaz; probably related to hrægel "garment," and Old Norse hræll "spindle," from PIE *krek- "to weave, beat" (cf. Greek krokus "nap of cloth").

Specifically of the fishing rod attachment from 1726; of a film projector apparatus from 1896. Reel-to-reel type of tape deck is attested from 1958.

"lively Highland dance," 1580s, probably a special use of reel (n.1), which had a secondary sense of "a whirl, whirling movement" (1570s) or from reel (v.1). Applied to the music for such a dance from 1590s.

v.

"to whirl around," late 14c., also "sway, swing, rock, become unsteady" (late 14c.), "stagger as a result of a blow, etc." (c.1400), probably from reel (n.1), on notion of "spinning." Of the mind, from 1796. Related: Reeled; reeling.

"to wind on a reel," late 14c., from reel (n.1). Verbal phrase reel off "recite without pause or effort" is from 1837. Fishing sense is from 1849. Related: Reeled; reeling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Article for reeling off

reel

in motion pictures, a light circular frame with radial arms and a central axis, originally designed to hold approximately 1,000 feet (300 m) of 35-millimetre motion-picture film. In the early days of motion pictures, each reel ran about 10 minutes, and the length of a picture was indicated by the number of its reels. A film was a "one-reeler," a "two-reeler," or longer.

Learn more about reel with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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