base *talo (see tale
). Meaning "to narrate, relate" is from c.1000; that of "to make known by speech or writing, announce" is from c.1122. Sense of "to reveal or disclose" is from c.1400; that of "to act as an informer, to 'peach' " is recorded from 1901. Meaning "to order (someone to do something)" is from 1599. Original sense in teller
and phrase to tell time. For sense evolution, cf. Fr. conter "to count," raconter "to recount;" It. contare, Sp. contar "to count, recount, narrate;" Ger. zählen "to count," erzählen "to recount, narrate."
"I tolde hyme so, & euer he seyde nay." [Thomas Hoccleve, "The Regiment of Princes," c.1412]
Telling "having effect or force" is from 1852.
"mound, hill," 1864, from Arabic tall, related to Heb. tel "mount, hill, heap."
past tense of tell, from O.E. talde, past tense of tellan (see tell