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From Middle English counseil, conseil, from Old French conseil, from Latin cōnsilium; akin to cōnsulō (take counsel, consult).



counsel (countable and uncountable, plural counsels)

  1. The exchange of opinions and advice especially in legal issues; consultation.
    • 1549 March 7, Thomas Cranmer [et al.], compilers, “The Introites, Collectes, Epistles, and Gospels to be Used at the Celebracion of the Lordes Supper & Holy Communion, throughe the Yeare: With Proper Psalmes, and Lessons for Diuers Feastes and Dayes”, in The Booke of the Common Prayer and Administration of the Sacramentes, [], London: In officina Edowardi Whitchurche [], OCLC 56485293, folio viia, recto:
      Bleſſed is that man that hath not walked in the counſaile of the vngodly: nor ſtand in the waye of ſynners, and hath not ſit in the ſeate of ſkornefull.
    • Bible, Matthew xxvii. 1
      All the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus, to put him to death.
  2. Exercise of judgment; prudence.
    • Hooker
      They all confess, therefore, in the working of that first cause, that counsel is used.
  3. Advice; guidance.
    • Shakespeare
      I like thy counsel; well hast thou advised.
    • Tennyson
      It was ill counsel had misled the girl.
  4. Deliberate purpose; design; intent; scheme; plan.
    • Bible, Psalms xxxiii. 11
      The counsel of the Lord standeth forever.
    • Bible, Proverbs xii. 5
      The counsels of the wicked are deceit.
  5. (obsolete) A secret opinion or purpose; a private matter.
    • Gower
      thilke lord [] to whom no counsel may be hid
  6. A lawyer, as in Queen's Counsel (QC).

Usage notesEdit

In the sense 'lawyer', the plural is usually unchanged counsel.




counsel (third-person singular simple present counsels, present participle counselling or counseling, simple past and past participle counselled or counseled)

  1. (transitive) To give advice, especially professional advice, to (somebody).
    The lawyer counselled his client to remain silent.
    Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals counsel clients.
  2. (transitive) To recommend (a course of action).
    I would counsel prudence in this matter.



Derived termsEdit

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