2 [spel]
a word, phrase, or form of words supposed to have magic power; charm; incantation: The wizard cast a spell.
a state or period of enchantment: She was under a spell.
any dominating or irresistible influence; fascination: the spell of fine music.

before 900; Middle English spell, Old English: discourse; cognate with Old High German spel, Old Norse spjall, Gothic spill tale; see spell1, gospel

spellful, adjective
spell-like, adjective
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World English Dictionary
spell1 (spɛl)
vb , spells, spelling, spelt, spelled
1.  to write or name in correct order the letters that comprise the conventionally accepted form of (a word or part of a word)
2.  (tr) (of letters) to go to make up the conventionally established form of (a word) when arranged correctly: d-o-g spells dog
3.  (tr) to indicate or signify: such actions spell disaster for our cause
[C13: from Old French espeller, of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse spialla to talk, Middle High German spellen]

spell2 (spɛl)
1.  a verbal formula considered as having magical force
2.  any influence that can control the mind or character; fascination
3.  a state induced by or as if by the pronouncing of a spell; trance: to break the spell
4.  under a spell held in or as if in a spell
5.  rare (tr) to place under a spell
[Old English spell speech; related to Old Norse spjall tale, Gothic spill, Old High German spel]

spell3 (spɛl)
1.  an indeterminate, usually short, period of time: a spell of cold weather
2.  a period or tour of duty after which one person or group relieves another
3.  (Scot), (Austral), (NZ) a period or interval of rest
4.  (tr) to take over from (a person) for an interval of time; relieve temporarily
5.  (NZ) spell a paddock to give a field a rest period by letting it lie fallow
[Old English spelian to take the place of, of obscure origin]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"name the letters of," O.E. spellian "to tell, speak," infl. by O.Fr. espeller "declare, spell," from Frank. *spellon "to tell;" both O.E. and Frank. from P.Gmc. *spellan (cf. O.H.G. spellon "to tell," O.N. spjalla, Goth. spillon "to talk, tell"), from PIE *spel- "to say aloud, recite." Meaning "write
or say the letters of a word" is c.1400, from notion of "read letter by letter, read with difficulty" (c.1300). Spell out "explain step-by-step" is first recorded 1940, Amer.Eng. Spelling bee is from 1878 (earlier simply spelling, 1860).

"incantation, charm," O.E. spell "story, speech," from P.Gmc. *spellan (cf. O.N. spjall, O.H.G. spel, Goth. spill "report, discourse, tale;" Ger. Beispiel "example;" see spell (v.1)). Meaning "set of words with magical powers, incantation, charm" first recorded 1579. Spellbound
is attested from 1799, from bound "fastened."
"The term 'spell' is generally used for magical procedures which cause harm, or force people to do something against their will -- unlike charms for healing, protection, etc." ["Oxford Dictionary of English Folklore"]

"work in place of (another)," O.E. spelian "to take the place of," related to gespelia "substitute," of uncertain origin. Perhaps related to spilian "to play" (see spiel). The noun meaning "indefinite period of time" first recorded 1706.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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