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From Middle English betellen (to tell about, calumniate), from Old English betellan (to speak about, answer, defend oneself against a charge or accusation), equivalent to be- (about, concerning) +‎ tell.


betell (third-person singular simple present betells, present participle betelling, simple past and past participle betold)

  1. (transitive) To speak or tell about; declare; narrate; describe.
    • 1938, Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (U.S.), Locomotive engineers journal:
      Occasionally we do see some short-line road whose track and equipment are kept in such good repair as to betell of exceptional prosperity; [...]
    • 2001, Donna Morrissey, Kit's Law: A Novel:
      Sid's face disappeared and one of his cursed Gods was glaring instead, through gouged-out sockets that betold of his having loved that which was denied him, a law that not even legends could do away with.
    • 2009, Dean R. Koontz, Odd Hours:
      The air pooled in stillness because the winds had died and would never breathe again, and the silence betold a world of solid stone, where the planetary core had gone cold, where no rivers ran and seas no longer stirred with tides, [...]
  2. (transitive) To speak for; answer for; justify.
  3. (transitive) To lay claim to; win; rescue.
  4. (transitive, rare) To talk about negatively; slander; calumniate; deride; deceive.