See also: Quell and quell'



  • IPA(key): /kwɛl/
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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English quellen, from Old English cwellan (to kill), from Proto-Germanic *kwaljaną (to make die; kill). Cognate with German quälen (to torment; agonise; smite), Swedish kvälja (to torment), Icelandic kvelja (to torture; torment). Compare also Old Armenian կեղ (keł, sore, ulcer), Old Church Slavonic жаль (žalĭ, pain). See also kill.


quell (third-person singular simple present quells, present participle quelling, simple past and past participle quelled)

  1. (transitive) To subdue, to put down; to silence or force (someone) to submit. [from 10th c.]
    • 1849, Thomas Macaulay, History of England, Chapter 1:
      The nation obeyed the call, rallied round the sovereign, and enabled him to quell the disaffected minority.
    • (Can we date this quote by Longfellow and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Northward marching to quell the sudden revolt.
  2. (transitive) To suppress, to put an end to (something); to extinguish. [from 14th c.]
    to quell grief
    to quell the tumult of the soul
    • 2014 December 13, Mandeep Sanghera, “Burnley 1-0 Southampton”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      However, after quelling Burnley's threat, Southampton failed to build on their growing danger culminating in Tadic's missed penalty.
  3. (obsolete, transitive) To kill. [9th-19th c.]
    • (Can we find and add a quotation of Edmund Spenser to this entry?)
  4. (obsolete, intransitive) To be subdued or abated; to diminish. [16th-17th c.]
    • (Can we date this quote by Edmund Spenser and provide title, author’s full name, and other details?)
      Winter's wrath begins to quell.
  5. To die.
    • 1590, w:Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Chapter 7:
      Yet he did quake and quaver, like to quell.


quell (plural quells)

  1. A subduing.
    • 1903, Knowledge: A Monthly Record of Science
      The quell of the rebellion raised Justinian to the acme of power.
    • 1978, Shiu Heng Chook, Chiang Kai-shek Close-up: A Personal View:
      Hu had been supportive of Chiang's role throughout the northern expedition and the quell of southern rebellion.
    • 1994, United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. international drug control policy: recent experience, future options : seminar proceedings, Government Printing Office →ISBN
      The consequences have not been significant in terms of the quell of any of the three drugs into the United States.
    • 1998, Mirza Arshad Ali Beg, Democracy Displaced in Pakistan: Case History of Disasters of Social Pollution:
      Each Martial Law was marked by the quell of civil liberties or human rights.
    • 2013, Suzanne Collins, Catching Fire, Scholastic UK
      But to make things even worse, this is the year of the Seventy-fifth Hunger Games, and that means it's also a Quarter Quell. They occur every twenty-five years, marking the anniversary of the districts' defeat with over-the-top celebrations and, for extra fun, some miserable twist for the tributes.
    • 2014, Markham J. Geller, Melammu: The Ancient World in an Age of Globalization, epubli →ISBN, page 136
      An example can be found in the data about the campaigns of Aššur-bān-apli against Arab tribes after the quell of the revolt of Šamaš-šumukīn.

Related termsEdit



  • quell” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary, 2001–2020.

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English *quelle (suggested by the verb quellen (to well up; gush forth)), from Old English cwylla, *cwielle (spring; source), from Proto-Germanic *kwellǭ (well; spring). Compare German Quelle.


quell (plural quells)

  1. A source, especially a spring.
    • 1894, George Egerton, Discords:
      And when they had eaten, and sat resting in a grotto, he was still singing, and she was the goddess of his Muse, — the quell of living waters out of which he drew fresh strength for new lays.
    • 1969, Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov, Ada, Or, Ardor, a Family Chronicle, Vintage →ISBN
      Other excruciations replaced her namesake's loquacious quells so completely that when, during a lucid interval, she happened to open with her weak little hand a lavabo cock for a drink of water, the tepid lymph replied in its own lingo []
    • 2001, Hans-Dieter Klingemann, Andrea Römmele, Public Information Campaigns and Opinion Research: A Handbook for the Student and Practitioner, SAGE →ISBN, page 82
      The strategists had access to a wide array of private polling and information from focus groups; a quell of information stretching back over his years as a state-wide candidate and office holder.
  2. An emotion or sensation which rises suddenly.
    • 2001, Zane Gates, The Cure, iUniverse →ISBN, page 241
      A quell of strength over took Robin with each of his words. She was about to fall apart, but Jacob was as brave as a warrior going into battle.
    • 2011, Linda Lee Chaikin, Hawaiian Crosswinds, Moody Publishers →ISBN
      For a moment their eyes locked, and she felt a quell of anger rise above her apprehension. Reality struck with appalling clarity, yet she could only lie down, partially drugged and untidy as she was from such rough traveling.
    • 2012, Molly Hopkins, It Happened at Boot Camp: Exclusive Novella, Hachette UK →ISBN
      I read on. It will cost two hundred and fifty quid. I felt a quell of alarm, that's quite expensive.

Middle EnglishEdit



  1. Alternative form of quellen