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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).


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?)
      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?)
      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, 2001–2019.

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