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spelling definition


This page has 8 definitions of spelling in English, Afrikaans, and Dutch, Flemish. Spelling is a verb and noun. Examples of how to use spelling in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .

English spelling definition


1400s, from spell (verb) +‎ -ing.




  1. present participle and gerund of spell
    • 2006, Wm. Shakespeare, Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor, eds., Hamlet, London: Arden Shakespeare:
      [p 88] A persuasive theory about the authority of the quarto or Folio texts might shed light on how Shakespeare actually spelt these names in a particular manuscript, but, since Shakespeare seemed capable of spelling his own name differently on different occasions, how reliable a guide would such evidence be?


spelling (countable and uncountable, plural spellings)

  1. (uncountable) The act, practice, ability, or subject of forming words with letters, or of reading the letters of words; orthography.
    • 1904, Andrew Dickson White, Autobiography of Andrew Dickson White, page 43:
      For the practical use of spelling comes in writing.
    • 1920, Henry Gallup Paine, Handbook of Simplified Spelling, New York: Simplified Spelling Board, page 1:
      Spelling was invented by man and, like other human inventions, is capable of development and improvement by man in the direction of simplicity, economy, and efficiency.
    • 2001, w: Stephen White, The Program, New York: Dell, page 66:
      I knew that Kriciak, the inspector who was supervising me for the Marshals Service, was going to go nuts when I told him that I wanted to allow Landon to participate in soccer and spelling.
  2. (uncountable) The manner of spelling of words; correct spelling.
    • 2006, William Shakespeare, edited by Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor, Hamlet, London: Arden Shakespeare, page 88:
      Because Elizabethan spelling was fluid, editors feel free to ‘modernize’ (correct) the spelling in the quartos and the Folio. But how is one to spell Rosencratz or Guildenstern, where the spelling varies, not only from text to text, but even within texts?
  3. (countable) A specific spelling of a word.
    • 2006, Wm. Shakespeare, Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor, eds., Hamlet, London: Arden Shakespeare:
      [p 253] *excellent Q2’s ‘extent’ is generally dismissed as an error, probably a mis-reading of ‘exlent’, a common spelling at this time.
      [p 269] reverend The spellings ‘reuerent’ (Q2) and ‘Reuerend’ (F) were interchangeable at this time.
      [p 466] Guildensterne and Rosincrance are F’s consistent spellings.
  4. (US, rare, dated, countable or uncountable) A spelling test or spelling bee.
    • 1860, Oscar Lawrence Jackson, The Colonel's Diary: Journals Kept Before and During the Civil War [1922], Sharon, Penn., p 23:
      The boys were anxious for a spelling in the evening but I said no.
    • 1889, James Whitcomb Riley, “A’ Old Played-Out Song”, in Pipes O' Pan at Zekesbury, Indianapolis, Ind.: Bowen-Merrill, page 45:
      How her face ust to look, in the twilight, / As I tuck her to spellin’; and she / Kep’ a-hummin’ that song ’tel I ast her, / Pine-blank, ef she ever missed me!
    • 2004, Carl Lindahl, editor, American Folktales: From the Collections of the Library of Congress, volume 1, Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, page 416:
      So we'd sit with these girls during school hours, and we told them, if they'd slip off, that we'd get away, and we'd go to [the school] to a spelling.
  5. (music) A choice of notation among enharmonic equivalents for the same pitch.
    • 2004, Joshua Stoddard, Christopher Raphael, Paul E. Utgoff, Well-Tempered Spelling: A Key-Invariant Pitch Spelling Algorithm[1], page 1:
      The spelling of a pitch is strongly influenced by its harmonic and melodic context.


Derived terms



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Dictionary:Entry layout § Translations.

Derived terms

Afrikaans spelling definition


From Dutch spelling, from Middle Dutch spellinge. Equivalent to spel +‎ -ing.


spelling (plural spellings or spellinge)

  1. spelling

Dutch spelling definition


From Middle Dutch spellinge. Equivalent to spellen +‎ -ing.


  • IPA(key): /ˈspɛ.lɪŋ/
  • (file)
  • Hyphenation: spel‧ling
  • Rhymes: -ɛlɪŋ


spelling f (plural spellingen, diminutive spellinkje n)

  1. spelling
    Synonym: schrijfwijze
    Het is belangrijk om de juiste spelling van woorden te gebruiken in je werkstuk.
    It is important to use the correct spelling of words in your essay.
    In de Nederlandse taal zijn er soms lastige regels voor de spelling van bepaalde woorden.
    In the Dutch language, there are sometimes tricky rules for the spelling of certain words.
    De leerlingen oefenden hun spelling tijdens de taalles.
    The students practiced their spelling during the language lesson.
    De spellingscontrole van de tekstverwerker helpt bij het corrigeren van spellingen in het document.
    The spell check of the word processor helps with correcting spellings in the document.

Derived terms