Definition of dwell in US English:



[no object]
  • 1formal with adverbial of place Live in or at a specified place.

    ‘groups of gypsies still dwell in these caves’
    • ‘An astonishing diversity of life dwells in the crystal-clear pools that format low tide along America's Pacific coast.’
    • ‘All manner of sea life dwells in this remarkable sanctuary, but the most exciting and abundant are the resident grey nurse sharks.’
    • ‘She pleased the many tourists that flocked to see the gypsy caravan that dwelt in the forest.’
    • ‘David, do you, by any chance, know where that warlord dwells?’
    • ‘This was where the people I truly considered my kin dwelt.’
    • ‘The guilt that dwelt so deep within him had surfaced again.’
    • ‘I was sure that the Graymen had not built it, and was haunted by the thought that at one time, normal people had dwelt here peacefully.’
    • ‘The screen then goes blank, and through an animated fog we arrive at the gates of the SWV Graveyard, a place where evil dwells.’
    • ‘In some texts, they say he dwells in a cave far from the reaches of the curious and greedy.’
    • ‘The clearing had not emptied as usual, but instead grew more crowded, as news of a visitor spread to those that dwelt nearby.’
    • ‘There they dwelt for weeks, constantly spying on the Dark Lord's army.’
    • ‘Avarii never dwelt in these lands, and our relationship with them, on their infrequent visits, was always friendly.’
    • ‘They believed that he dwelt far beneath the earth, forever sustaining the lush growth that surrounded his followers.’
    • ‘Shyness, performance anxiety seemed never to have dwelled in him.’
    • ‘The light made her squint and cower back, like some animal that had dwelled in caves for all time.’
    • ‘The belief behind this dated back to when they dwelt in Faerie.’
    • ‘The fish dwells deep in the ocean and travels long distances to spawn above seamounts in the Southern Hemisphere.’
    • ‘She and her grandson dwelt in the attic of the building, which had been converted into a fairly modern little apartment for them.’
    • ‘She dwelt with her brothers at a place now called Ballycolane - then Ballykilbawn.’
    • ‘Herdsmen dwell in large tents made of canvas or woven yak wool.’
    reside, live, have one's home, have one's residence, be settled, be housed, lodge, stay
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  • 2dwell on/uponThink, speak, or write at length about (a particular subject, especially one that is a source of unhappiness, anxiety, or dissatisfaction)

    ‘I've got better things to do than dwell on the past’
    • ‘Perhaps the film dwells too much on his shortcomings, and maybe it would have done better to show us a more balanced look at the man.’
    • ‘It is clearly written and avoids dwelling on many of the stories that have been told too often.’
    • ‘For a while, she didn't know what to do; she passed through the days listlessly, her mind not dwelling on any one subject for too long.’
    • ‘Generally speaking, I think dwelling on other designers gets in the way of the work.’
    • ‘Focus on the current issues and stop dwelling on the past.’
    • ‘Interspersed with anecdotes, he dwelt at length on a variety of core themes of management.’
    • ‘Knowing the futility of dwelling on the past, she forced herself to focus on the present.’
    • ‘The foregoing sections of this article have dwelt briefly on musical issues that are critical in developing musicianship.’
    • ‘The Law Commission too dwelt on the subject extensively.’
    • ‘He dwelt for a moment on his imagined feeling about love.’
    • ‘Milburn has been arguing for a more radical manifesto that looks ahead rather than dwells on Labour's past achievements.’
    • ‘After all, dwelling on mistakes of the past would not help her unless she learned from them, though the old adage did not make her feel better in the least.’
    • ‘High demand of the magazine has been reported, and newspapers and broadcasters dwelt at length on the Indonesian issue of the magazine.’
    • ‘He grimaced, his mind dwelling on the premature thoughts that brewed inside him.’
    • ‘Neither side dwelt long on the hosts' numerical advantage.’
    • ‘They have dwelt heavily on the idea that human nature is out of date, having evolved to meet conditions remote from our modern way of life.’
    • ‘Conflict transformation avoids allocating blame or dwelling on the past, no matter how painful, in order to try to achieve shared futures.’
    • ‘If only we could negotiate our differences rather than dwell on the anxieties of difference.’
    • ‘In particular, the two concepts I dwell upon at length, the gedoog policy and the polder model, only exist as ideal types.’
    • ‘Earlier, he dwelt on the subjects of environment and the Yamuna river.’
    linger over, mull over, muse on, brood about, brood over, think about, spend time thinking about, be preoccupied by, be obsessed by, eat one's heart out over
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    1. 2.1dwell on/upon (of one's eyes or attention) linger on (a particular object or place)
      ‘she let her eyes dwell on them for a moment’
      • ‘The camera dwells lovingly on bookshelves, there are close ups of book covers and their spines, the title page and the endpapers.’
      • ‘He dwelt with fastidious detail on her figure and the cleanliness of her fingernails.’


  • A slight regular pause in the motion of a machine.

    • ‘The interim dwell takes place before the second substep and includes the hydrolysis reaction.’
    • ‘The calculation of Eq. 32 assumes that there is no correlation between the dwells at very long dwell times.’
    • ‘Thus if the lag time is much longer than the dwell time, a large number of dwells must be saved and shifted during this process.’
    • ‘When the particle emits enough photons and the dwell time is such that photons emitted by a specific particle are registered in consecutive series of dwells, the intensities in these dwells become correlated with one another.’


Old English dwellan ‘lead astray, hinder, delay’ (in Middle English ‘tarry, remain in a place’), of Germanic origin; related to Middle Dutch dwellen ‘stun, perplex’ and Old Norse dvelja ‘delay, tarry, stay’.