Definition of sell in English:

sell

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • 1Give or hand over (something) in exchange for money:

    ‘they had sold the car’
    ‘the family business had been sold off’
    [with two objects] ‘I was trying to sell him my butterfly collection’
    • ‘‘Consider restricting your opening hours or employ a strict policy as to whom alcohol is sold to,’ she advised.’
    • ‘It was a brand new, clean memory stick when it was sold to a reputable dealer.’
    • ‘The dresser was sold to a private buyer in the ‘north country’.’
    • ‘When the first edition was sold out, the rights in the book were sold to a mainstream trade publisher, who issued it with revisions and a slightly altered title.’
    • ‘Is the site being sold to make money for Hackney council?’
    • ‘He made his money selling car stickers in a business which became the second biggest in the world.’
    • ‘The filly was sold to a private breeder for a large amount of money.’
    • ‘If it was sold to a developer, a considerable amount of money could change hands.’
    • ‘To clarify, I don't mind waiting until all the puppies are sold to collect money.’
    • ‘It was sold to a private collector at the auction.’
    • ‘As the Depression deepened, farmers across the Midwest began to gather at farms being sold off to break up the proceedings.’
    • ‘But as property prices soar and demand for second homes rises, unprofitable sporting estates are worth more when broken up and assets are sold off.’
    • ‘But she stopped short of confirming that she would refuse an export licence if the Doncaster-built locomotive was sold to a foreign buyer.’
    • ‘Regardless of which site is chosen, the present further education site is to be sold to raise money for the development.’
    • ‘His collection was sold off and dispersed in 1936, examples going to the Museum of London, Tower of London and York Castle Museum.’
    • ‘One phone was sold to the stallholders just 40 minutes after it had been stolen from its owner while another phone was taken from a car while the driver was at a funeral.’
    • ‘The products are then sold to various clients, including farmers, the forestry commission, local authorities and garden centres.’
    • ‘The leasing driver has the chance to buy the car outright, renegotiate a lease, or they are sold to a car auction.’
    • ‘A special leather-bound edition will be sold to raise money for emergency workers and their families.’
    • ‘Although international donors encouraged the sale, the government failed to explain where the money went, or whom the grain was sold to.’
    salesmanship, sales, marketing, merchandising, promotion, advertising
    dispose of, get rid of, vend
    vending, selling off, auctioning, trading
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Have a stock of (something) available for sale:
      ‘the store sells hi-fis, TVs, videos, and other electrical goods’
      • ‘That means stocking, promoting and selling hunting products.’
      • ‘Our stock is small simply because supermarkets sell popular books cheaper than we can buy them.’
      • ‘Attack the stores and retailers selling undesirable ice cream.’
      • ‘In my outline of the different venues available to sell your work I have not mentioned books or magazines.’
      • ‘Specialist hi-fi stores do sell the high end famous brands as well: Toshiba, Sony, Pioneer, Marantz.’
      • ‘They said the park's units were only supposed to be available for retailers selling bulky items such as carpets, furniture and electrical white goods.’
      • ‘Sizes go up to only 16, but the site sells ranges not available in smaller stores.’
      • ‘Active SCSI terminators are available at any PC store that sells SCSI devices.’
      • ‘We are going into every retail store that sells the shirts and removing them.’
      • ‘Perhaps you are a salesperson or sales executive responsible for selling goods or products for one or many companies.’
      • ‘It seems that a company called Brands on Sale, which sells children's Halloween costumes, is now marketing wizard costumes for boys and witch costumes for girls.’
      • ‘The store sells clothing, household goods, small furniture and garden implements.’
      • ‘You know my supplements are sold on my Web site and they're also sold in retail stores like Whole Foods.’
      • ‘Mixtures containing these are available from companies selling spices and seasonings.’
      • ‘I would also deliver items to stores where people worked to stock and sell them.’
      • ‘He says the stores that sell them are running stock clearance sales just now and they're to be had for a good price.’
      • ‘This interesting business opportunity, often using the web as a sales forum, sells ex-company cars, lease cars and PCP cars direct to the public and to employees.’
      • ‘I carried on looking at different shops selling their wares.’
      • ‘Is it showing how you can help someone or the stereotype of the pushy, obnoxious sales associate selling a service or product for which you have no need?’
      • ‘We create a sales force that actually sells those products.’
      trade in, deal in, be in the business of, traffic in, stock, carry, offer for sale, handle, peddle, hawk, retail, market, advertise, promote
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[no object] Be purchased in specified amounts or for a specified price:
      ‘the album sold 6 million copies in the United States’
      ‘this magazine of yours won't sell’
      ‘these antiques of the future sell for about £375’
      • ‘Coal continues to be subsidized, dug out of the ground and sold at unbelievably low prices.’
      • ‘Both were sold at below purchase price as part of a deck - clearing exercise, causing a few raised eyebrows in the City.’
      • ‘It sold at the rate of a thousand copies a day in its first few weeks.’
      • ‘Loads of members, loads of rare goods all sold at great low prices.’
      • ‘Had it sold at that price, it would have been the granite city's most expensive ever house.’
      • ‘Our £200,000 appeal is so that Socialist Worker can be bought, read and sold at a price workers and students can afford.’
      • ‘A medal awarded to a 19th Century Bolton soldier has sold at auction for almost three times more than it was expected to fetch.’
      • ‘But when it came to houses sold at 2 million or more, the London borough of Richmond jumped one place to number five in the country.’
      • ‘The freshest herring was salted and sold at good prices for human consumption.’
      • ‘Had Mr Power sold at the price offered to him by institutions last week, he would have had £12m in his pocket.’
      • ‘If I sold at that price there is nowhere in the country I could get something similar.’
      • ‘They also (surprising to me) found that pink tomatoes sold at a higher price than the red ones.’
      • ‘They are more than dumb pieces of suede, fashioned by Spanish craftsmen and sold at a bargain price in a long forgotten shoe shop in Sevilla.’
      • ‘A Van Gogh self-portrait sold at auction in New York in 1998 for $71 million.’
      • ‘These were difficult to obtain on the open market and sold at premium prices.’
      • ‘Not only is gas cheaper than ever, once adjusted for inflation, but it is also frequently sold at a price similar to a liter of water.’
      • ‘The applications come from IBM and other vendors, and can be bundled and sold at a compelling price.’
      • ‘In June last year, a similar ticket sold at auction at Sotheby's in London raised a staggering £2,760.’
      • ‘Increased demand may simply mean the same quantity sold at a higher price, or even a smaller quantity at a still higher price.’
      • ‘Second-hand clothing from the United States, sold at bargain prices, has become popular.’
      be priced at, sell at, retail at, go for, be, be found for, be trading at, cost
      be bought, be purchased, go
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3sell out[no object] Sell all of one's stock of something:
      ‘they had nearly sold out of the initial run of 75,000 copies’
      • ‘All the clothing vendors rapidly sold out of sweatshirts, fleece pullovers and other warm gear.’
      • ‘In the last week-and-a-half the shop has completely sold out of the kind of designer shirts that it says it would struggle to sell in its Knightsbridge store.’
      • ‘The range on show was of course impressive, but this being the final day of the festival many of the smaller brewers had sold out of beer so a fair amount of the stalls were closed.’
      • ‘One happy landlord estimated that he had sold 5,000 pints, while another had sold out of champagne and a number of spirits within hours of the victory.’
      • ‘The concession stands were practically empty - sold out of sweets and cold drinks - with only popcorn and coffee to offer punters.’
      • ‘A lot of fabric prints are discontinued by stores once they have sold out of them.’
      • ‘Had to wait 45 minutes for a bus and by the time I got there the bakery on the Via Portuense had completely sold out of focaccia.’
      • ‘I'm hoping they just sold out of the black and white, because I'd hate to think the color one was more popular.’
      • ‘We totally sold out of Christmas trees and decorations.’
      • ‘Judging from response so far there are already a lot of anglers using the new floats as we completely sold out of the first production batch within a week!’
      • ‘Our Dorking store has sold out of videos and other stores are saying that stocks are running low.’
      • ‘The argument was settled the next day when we sold out of our newsletter in one hour.’
      • ‘But when they tried to buy petrol before setting off yesterday, every filling station they visited had sold out of unleaded.’
      • ‘Not surprisingly, the store had sold out of them by the time he went back to get it on Sunday so he spent his day driving around trying to find somewhere that stocked it.’
      • ‘The response from the shop keeper was that he had already sold out of such furs.’
      • ‘Linda told us that she took a bag full of Socialist Worker Miners' Strike specials and T-shirts, sold out of all of them, and even took orders for more.’
      • ‘On their first day they sold out of what they had, not expecting the turnout they got.’
      • ‘When her own store had sold out of a special pair of shoes Trisha wanted to buy, Rachel made an unprecedented visit to the Dolcis branch in Bury and bought the shoes herself.’
      • ‘One large supermarket had sold out of bread stocks by midday and supplies of flour were disappearing from the shelves.’
      • ‘Parts of the UK even sold out of red hairspray as supporters rushed to do something with their hair to raise cash.’
      have none left, be out of stock of, have run out of, have sold all one's ...
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4sell out[no object] Be all sold:
      ‘it was clear that the performances would not sell out’
      • ‘Tickets are selling well and the Friday and Saturday night performances are sold out.’
      • ‘Please note, Monday's performance has sold out already, and prompt booking is recommended for the rest of the week.’
      • ‘Of the 24 professional performances, six sold out, and a further eight filled at least 85 per cent of the seats.’
      • ‘Despite this being a work that takes literally days to perform, every performance was sold out months in advance.’
      • ‘It sounded too good to be true, even as I handed over the six pounds for the front row seat (the last one left in a sell out final performance).’
      • ‘Word of mouth quickly spread, performances sold out, and the show's original run was extended.’
      • ‘The warm glow doesn't last, of course, but the beginning of the fringe is a good time to catch shows before the best ones start to sell out and the performers get too knackered to remember their jokes.’
      • ‘Lots of press coverage was good news for the show and the ten performances sold out.’
      • ‘Performance sold out, but some limited view seats or returns may be available from the box office’
      • ‘It is only the evening performances that are sold out ahead.’
      • ‘Tickets for Sting's Royal Albert Hall performance are sold out already?’
      • ‘The premiere was a popular and critical success, with scheduled performances sold out almost immediately.’
      • ‘Expected to run six weeks, it became the first show in the history of Los Angeles theater to sell out 300 consecutive performances.’
      • ‘Tickets for the play's 24 performances sold out in less than two days, the majority of them bought by one of the youngest audiences the theatre can recall.’
      • ‘I have to sit with the usherettes because the performance has been sold out for weeks.’
      • ‘The matinee performance on Tuesday was sold out and people were turned away as all 253 seats were full.’
      • ‘Both performances were sold out as parents packed the hall to see their children take centre stage.’
      • ‘A few tickets remain for the matinee performance at 1.30 pm Saturday but the evening performance is sold out.’
      • ‘It's only the evening performances which are sold out.’
      • ‘Both Saturday performances of the Monday-Saturday show have sold out and the Friday performance is almost full.’
      be bought up, be depleted, be exhausted
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5sell through[no object] (of a product) be purchased by a customer from a retail outlet.
      • ‘Convenience goods are generally sold through many retail outlets so that buyers have easy access to the product.’
      • ‘The company will continue to provide retail registrations internationally through the Network Solutions business and will sell through its many resellers in the UK.’
      • ‘As a producer of windows and doors that are sold through home improvement outlets, we are interested in this information.’
      • ‘We have an uncluttered retail environment to sell through, and that's a big enabler.’
      • ‘This past September, the company expanded its reach to include San Francisco and New York, primarily selling through Asian marketing outlets.’
      • ‘Their highly individual woven fabrics, made from wool and organza, are also sold through outlets such as Liberty and Co.’
      • ‘Why must CDs be sold through official - and more expensive - outlets?’
      • ‘He sold through the local supermarket chains, which were then still the backbone of the American grocery industry.’
      • ‘Esk Valley is only a small-scale producer, with wines sold through selected independent wine merchants.’
      • ‘It's a bit like the changes and options opening up in banking - you can sell through retail outlets, by telephone or online.’
      • ‘These insurance products are sold through authorized insurance brokers.’
      • ‘So, the bulk of their milk continues to be sold through established outlets.’
      • ‘Gateway sells through retail outlets, whereas Dell's business relies on the factory direct model.’
      • ‘Around two-thirds of products are sold through advisers.’
      • ‘Most industry observers figure the record companies will eventually have to strike deals with every credible Net outlet, much as they currently sell through Tower Records or Kmart.’
      • ‘The British economy also benefits when the product returns to these shores and is distributed by a British distributor, and sold through a British store.’
      • ‘She would then reproduce the scenes on mugs, coasters, mousepads, postcards, and other items, which she would sell through high-end retail outlets and gift stores, mainly to tourists.’
      • ‘A further option is to sell through certain specialized shops, on the basis that the product requires sales expertise in that area.’
      • ‘In addition to catalog sales, Venus sells through its Jacksonville retail outlet and also distributes wholesale to surf shops and speciality stores worldwide.’
      • ‘These devices will avoid Intel's usual channels for its products and instead will be sold through electronics shops in the US.’
    6. 1.6sell upBritish [no object] Sell all of one's property, possessions, or assets:
      ‘Ernest sold up and retired’
      • ‘So we quit our jobs, sold up everything, and came here.’
      • ‘He applied to Richmond Council to build houses and offices on the site, but the application was refused, so he sold up to property developers who have since submitted a succession of planning applications.’
      • ‘This limits movement around the market for existing home owners who are looking to sell up, grinding the property chain to a halt.’
      • ‘The owners are selling up to a property developer and will retire rich.’
      • ‘We plan to live at my place for two to three years, then sell up and buy a property abroad.’
    7. 1.7sell oneself Have sex in exchange for money:
      ‘if she was going to sell herself then it would be as well not to come too cheap’
      • ‘In the course of his conversations with her, he told her that back in the day, things were so hard that he used to sell himself to make money!’
      • ‘Finally, through intimidation and violence the girl, separated from family and now dependent on the recruiter and pimp for drugs and money is expected to pay back her debt by selling herself for sex.’
      • ‘You sold yourself for money to help your sister.’
      • ‘The fact that women end up on the street selling themselves cheaply to get money for drugs is tragedy in itself.’
      • ‘During the time I spent living rough, I met many homeless people, girls and boys, who had started selling themselves for money.’
    8. 1.8sell out[no object] Abandon one's principles for reasons of expedience:
      ‘the prime minister has come under fire for selling out to the United States’
      • ‘He believes the group has demonstrated that ‘independent drinks companies’ have a real alternative to selling out to one of the global drinks giants.’
      • ‘Instead he berates him for abandoning his country and selling out to make money.’
      • ‘She's a dance and drama teacher at a Catholic high school, and aspires to age graciously without selling out to the complacent middle class.’
      • ‘Many Europeans see this as selling out to agribusiness and international pressure.’
      • ‘It is another thing entirely to be a corporate whore, selling out to the highest bidder because the CEO fattens your campaign chest.’
      abandon one's principles, prostitute oneself, sell one's soul, betray one's cause, betray one's ideals, be untrue to oneself, go over to the other side, play false, sacrifice oneself, debase oneself, degrade oneself, demean oneself
      View synonyms
    9. 1.9sell someone out Betray someone for one's own benefit:
      ‘the clansmen became tenants and the chiefs sold them out’
      • ‘My brother is a strong person, but they felt they had been sold out.’
      • ‘A lot of us are angry because we don't know what's happening and the people who have put quite a lot of years into the company feel they have been sold out.’
      • ‘In his acceptance speech, Patrick talked about the raw deal given the fishermen, that they were sold out by the government.’
      • ‘This was a youth meeting, youth must be the ones speaking to work this out, and the adults had sold us out again by managing this problem, and not addressing it head on.’
      • ‘I feel we have been sold out by the interim management team led by Mr Dawson.’
      betray, inform against, inform on
      be disloyal to, be unfaithful to, desert, break one's promise to, double-cross, break faith with, stab in the back
      tell on, sell down the river, blow the whistle on, squeal on, stitch up, peach on, do the dirty on
      grass on, shop
      rat out, finger, drop a dime on, drop the dime on
      pimp on, pool, put someone's pot on
      View synonyms
    10. 1.10archaic Offer (something) dishonourably for money or other reward:
      ‘do not your lawyers sell all their practice, as your priests their prayers?’
  • 2Persuade someone of the merits of:

    ‘he sold the idea of making a film about Tchaikovsky’
    ‘he just won't sell himself’
    • ‘Why do you need to sell others on the idea of being a parent?’
    • ‘Just how one sells something like this, I have no idea… so I thought I'd tell its story here and see if anyone has any suggestions.’
    • ‘Firstly, with this modern mobile stuff, consumers have been sold the idea of the Internet on their phone.’
    • ‘The project aims to turn brainpower into big business by attracting new investment and selling Manchester as a city of ideas - a so-called Ideopolis.’
    • ‘Politicians have been sold the idea that it is a big wealth-creating industry that must be cherished at all costs and now refuse to face the downside.’
    • ‘When we are offered a television, we are as much being sold the idea behind it as the physical reality of it.’
    • ‘He was as smooth a talker as any merchant in the city streets and knew how to sell many an idea to men.’
    • ‘Well I argue that anyone who's persuaded a two-year-old to eat spinach can sell anything.’
    • ‘With an eye on the commissions earned from these products brokers were cashing in on the equity craze at a time when the world was being sold the idea of building a share portfolio.’
    • ‘What is being sold here, in short, is the idea of control.’
    • ‘I just read this claptrap from someone who is selling a ‘new’ idea for moving a vehicle.’
    • ‘If there's no way to sell a particular good idea, then you put it on the back-burner and look at something else.’
    • ‘Style and image is everything when you're trying to sell something as nebulous as an idea.’
    • ‘Is it any surprise that so many people can be sold irrational ideas, systems, devices, and philosophies?’
    • ‘Lecturing us on how to keep our linen cupboards tidy, we are being sold the idea that cleaning is cool and that a few crumbs under the toaster is an indication of failure.’
    • ‘It's too soon to try to politically sell such an idea - mainly because it is a very complicated sale.’
    • ‘For the moment at least, there is no talk of incentives on the Irish market, so here it will have to sell on its merits alone.’
    persuade someone to accept, convince someone of the merits of, talk someone into, bring someone round to, win someone over to, get acceptance for, win approval for, get support for, get across, promote
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1sell someone on Cause someone to become enthusiastic about:
      ‘I'm just not sold on the idea’
      • ‘But trainer Rick Griffin sold Buhner on the idea that he could still be a contributor on the field and in the clubhouse.’
      • ‘He worked in radio and sold Hollywood on the idea for the movie.’
      • ‘Now Jerry had always wanted a poolroom, but knew he would have to sell Sherry on the idea.’
      • ‘The kids - despite not being totally sold on the idea of paper curls - did their best.’
      • ‘Can I just go through, if I may, some of the advantages, because of course not everybody is sold on this idea.’
      persuade someone to accept, convince someone of the merits of, talk someone into, bring someone round to, win someone over to, get acceptance for, win approval for, get support for, get across, promote
      View synonyms
  • 3archaic Trick or deceive (someone):

    ‘what we want is to go out of here quiet, and talk this show up, and sell the rest of the town’

noun

informal
  • 1An act of selling or attempting to sell something:

    ‘every other television commercial is a sell for Australian lager’
    • ‘For one, getting capital from skittish investors proved a tough sell.’
    • ‘Buying a second home in the Desert Southwest was not an easy sell to Sue.’
    • ‘All but one of the 14 analysts covering the company had a sell on it.’
    • ‘We'll look at the tough sell facing our commerce secretary in Beijing.’
    • ‘We are, as Adam said, different from advertising in terms of the call to action and the straight sell.’
    • ‘The lack of a software standard also makes DAPs a complicated sell.’
    • ‘Though the irony was glaring, it was a tough sell to ad agencies.’
    • ‘But so much of it is a real-life cartoon, that little kids seem a natural sell.’
    • ‘Part of the sell was that it would breathe life into the other two-thirds and drive local economic development.’
    • ‘Because we don't come at you with our content with a hard, commercial sell.’
    • ‘By the end of the no-pressure sell, the four other guests had booked a consultation.’
    • ‘While this message was hugely popular among Russians, it was a tougher sell in the outside world.’
    • ‘Just as important to the sell are shapely female models suggesting that Cigarettes are babe-catchers.’
    • ‘For the most part, though, foreign films have become a tough sell, and their decline is hardly a mystery.’
    • ‘It's not an easy sell, but you have to work on people that are role models to different generations.’
    • ‘The average rider reads these, guarding against the eventual sell.’
    • ‘MBTs fulfilled all the conditions and they proved an easy sell.’
    • ‘Still, in Leadbetter's opinion, the sell here is the method, the program, the environment.’
    • ‘It's an easy sell there, because that's where the commodity has value.’
    • ‘Once you have a highly-acceptable product, it's mostly an emotional sell.’
  • 2British A disappointment, typically one arising from being deceived as to the merits of something:

    ‘actually, Hawaii's a bit of a sell—not a patch on Corfu’

Phrases

  • sell someone a bill of goods

    • Deceive someone, especially by persuading them to accept something untrue or undesirable:

      ‘she was sold a bill of goods about her low value in society’
      • ‘If you think that's possible, you've been sold a bill of goods that you'll regret buying for the rest of your life.’
      • ‘What bothers me the most about it is not just that we are being sold a bill of goods by the very outfit responsible for making possible most current Internet security problems.’
      • ‘In the process, the American people were demoted from citizens to consumers, and sold a bill of goods about how the almighty market was the essential foundation of democracy.’
      • ‘Consumers seeking relief from phone hucksters shouldn't be sold a bill of goods by their government.’
      • ‘But lest you go getting any notions that we're being sold an old disorder with a new name and a brand-new (now prescription) bill of goods, think again.’
      • ‘I mean, are we getting sold a little bit of a bill of goods, here?’
      • ‘As I said earlier, American men have been sold a bill of goods.’
      • ‘The guys who get caught now will be the ones who are sold a bill of goods by someone who convinces them he has a way to keep them from being caught.’
      • ‘It passed because voters were sold a bill of goods by proponents of the act.’
      • ‘Still, it's hard to shake the notion that we're being sold a bill of goods - a vision of war as sleek and high-tech and, ultimately, painless and made to look easy.’
      • ‘In fixing blame for the way the public appears to have been sold a bill of goods, don't overlook the part played by the media.’
      • ‘I know the answer to that - he thinks we are completely brain dead, because we bought his whole bill of goods before, and once we realised that we were tricked, we didn't do a damn thing about it.’
      • ‘If we, as a country, bought a bill of goods, this article might function as the receipt written in mutating ink.’
      • ‘And once again, it was the sense-only an occasional sense in de la Pena's case, but still there - that I was being sold a bill of goods.’
      • ‘‘They,’ he told a Senate judiciary subcommittee, ‘sold the country a bill of goods.’’
      • ‘I picture the churlish store employees who sold me this bill of goods in the first place, bellyaching about being at work, glancing at the ringing phone in irritation, then disgust, then amusement as they willfully ignore it.’
      • ‘Were they just misunderstandings of intelligence data, or were we sold a bill of goods?’
      • ‘And the political scandal relates to the fact that we've been sold a bill of goods on this limited government.’
      • ‘It's simply because I know that women are being sold a bill of goods, a limited sense of their own capacities, a distorted view of birth.’
      • ‘You're almost certainly being sold a bill of goods.’
      • ‘That is a conceit that has been sold to us as a bill of goods, and we should not buy it; and the last people who should buy into that are the ministers of Word and Sacrament.’
      • ‘But rather than target individual lawmakers, they sold voters a bill of goods about the virtues of putting limits on how long anyone can serve in certain elected positions.’
  • sell someone down the river

    • Betray someone, especially so as to benefit oneself:

      ‘he said they were management lackeys who had been sold down the river by Bunker’
      • ‘I guess just by sheer odds alone, he was bound to do something right, and the Right Honourable Prime Minister saw the light about doing the right thing and not selling us down the river.’
      • ‘Soldiers and veterans groups could complain that troops are being made into scapegoats, and that the Pentagon and CIA have sold them down the river.’
      • ‘Staff feel they have been sold down the river by the Government.’
      • ‘He has sold us down the river and made our democracy a joke.’
      • ‘And they say they feel they have been sold down the river by their union leaders, who last week accepted a pay settlement involving changes in shift patterns and working practices.’
      • ‘Will he remove our freedoms and sell us down the river with a smile?’
      • ‘Yet he behaves and talks constantly as if the world is out to get him, as if he has been sold down the river by some series of massive injustices that have conspired to deny him the fullness of his life.’
      • ‘They could stop these plans now but instead they are selling us down the river for a few pence a tonne.’
      • ‘Our leaders have sold us down the river on numerous occasions.’
      • ‘Traders accused the planning committee of ‘selling them down the river’ after controversial plans to redevelop the Market Hall were approved.’
      cheat, trick, swindle, defraud, dupe, hoodwink
      double-cross, betray, deceive, sell out, stab in the back
      exploit, take advantage of
      do, con, take for a ride, sell, diddle, bamboozle, finagle, bilk, rip off, fleece
      View synonyms
  • sell someone a (or the) dummy

  • sell the pass

    • Betray a cause:

      ‘he is merciless to other poets whom he considers to have sold the pass’
      • ‘Following their decision he said: ‘By their refusal to make the retention of the Lucozade Sign a condition of the development package, Hounslow have sold the pass.’’
      • ‘If those in government allow themselves to be intimidated into neutrality because they harbour private peccadilloes, they will sell the pass to the prophets of moral nihilism.’
      • ‘There was some minor resistance from a few tiers down the management structure in some companies, but the upshot was that the OEMs bravely sold the pass.’
      • ‘He arrived knowing that the French government had already sold the pass at the Congress of Berlin.’
      • ‘The great marquess never sold the pass on such an issue of principle, the great adventurer couldn't resist dishing the Whigs by out-democratising them.’
      • ‘Query whether you do not sell the pass once you concede that there might be just a little tiny bit of punishment in there.’
      • ‘And responsibility for that external breakdown lies squarely with the paramilitary thugs and their political appeasers, who have simply sold the pass.’
      • ‘On that point Isaacs' wife might have unwittingly sold the pass.’
      • ‘The third of the Derby / Disraeli minority Tory administrations then brought in its own bill for the towns, thus selling the pass of the anti-reformers' position.’
      • ‘At the same time, he believed that ‘the quint-essential Diehard… never entirely trusts his leaders not to sell the pass behind his back.’’
      • ‘Alas, he himself feebly sold the pass when he agreed in his ‘concordat’ with the Constitution Secretary to the abolition of the Lord Chancellor.’
      • ‘A substantial number of the party's ruling council could never accept that the hardliner they voted for to stonewall seemed to have sold the pass.’
      • ‘These people at the beginning of the 20th century sold the pass on that one, and decided that we were better off without this language, which was the badge, supposedly, of our superiority to the other creatures.’
      • ‘Perhaps Confucius and Mencius had already sold the pass.’
  • sell someone a pup

    • Swindle someone by selling them something worthless:

      ‘people don't want to go into these places because they're afraid they'll be sold a pup’
      • ‘As inept as Rangers were inspired, with one win now in nine league games, Thompson has been sold a pup, one that only whimpered briefly before submission against the Ibrox opponents.’
      • ‘He spotted the ignorance of the conservatives in Middle Eastern affairs - and sold them a pup.’
      • ‘It is a difficult process, but it is possible to win compensation if you were sold a pup.’
      • ‘The Minister's chief executive has sold him a pup, and he has bought it.’
      • ‘The talk is that Ford was sold a pup when it bought the British brands - an accusation Dover dismisses.’
      • ‘‘If we had put them to the membership, they would have thought they had been sold a pup,’ he said.’
      • ‘We have had no official word but we are being told that the Israelis are saying they have been sold a pup.’
      • ‘Those who joined up because they were in favour of Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environment, Community, and Trades Unionism have been sold a pup.’
      • ‘The people of New Zealand have been sold a pup by the Prime Minister of New Zealand.’
      • ‘The first is that Helen Clark and Pete Hodgson sold New Zealand a pup.’
  • sell someone/thing short

    • Fail to recognize or state the true value of:

      ‘don't sell yourself short—you've got what it takes’
      • ‘Putting that understanding into words would only sell it short.’
      • ‘I think a lot of them sell themselves short.’
      • ‘In the same instance you shouldn't sell yourself short.’
      • ‘I wasn't keen on the title because I felt it sold the band short.’
      • ‘Like a lot of modern audiences, those people are selling themselves short.’
      • ‘Neither does he sell himself short on the talent front.’
      • ‘Don't sell yourself short, you're a beautiful woman.’
      • ‘To say Christopher is a well-connected British gent is to sell him short.’
      • ‘But at every level, Clarke's proposal patronises these would-be undergraduates and sells them short.’
      • ‘The description sells Douglas a little short.’
      undervalue, underrate, underestimate, disparage, deprecate, belittle
      View synonyms
    • see short
      • ‘To dictate user behaviour, as a way of cashing in on irrational internet panics, only sells the internet short.’
      • ‘He should have value as a utility-type player, but don't sell him short.’
      • ‘And I think what Ann said on your show a while ago is, true, do not sell this guy short.’
      • ‘Don't sell your results short by buying some cheap supplement just because you're getting a deal.’
      • ‘Whilst much of the media coverage the film has received has focused on the exploitative aspect of the film's subject matter, concentrating on this alone sells the film short by some considerable distance.’
      belittle, disparage, denigrate, decry, deprecate, make light of, treat lightly, discredit, underrate, undervalue, underestimate, deflate, detract from, diminish, minimize, trivialize, run down, traduce, defame
      View synonyms
  • sell one's soul (to the devil)

    • Do or be willing to do anything, no matter how wrong it is, in order to achieve one's objective:

      ‘it is very easy to get to the top of any employment structure if you are prepared to sell your soul’
      • ‘It's more like selling my soul to Satan, except I don't have anything to gain.’
      • ‘But when you sell your soul, no matter for what price, you die inside.’
      • ‘I don't think that I sold my soul to the devil for that £350, but if I knew that I could claim a lot more for something, I won't lie and say I wouldn't be tempted.’
      • ‘Then, with a new job in a new part of the country, I finally sold my soul to eternal debt, took the plunge into home ownership and, for the first time, tasted independence.’
      • ‘It doesn't take much intelligence to understand that once you have sold your soul to the devil, you can't buy it back.’

Origin

Old English sellan (verb), of Germanic origin; related to Old Norse selja give up, sell. Early use included the sense ‘give, hand (something) over voluntarily in response to a request’.

Pronunciation:

sell

/sɛl/