Definition of sell in US 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’
    • ‘The filly was sold to a private breeder for a large amount of money.’
    • ‘As the Depression deepened, farmers across the Midwest began to gather at farms being sold off to break up the proceedings.’
    • ‘The dresser was sold to a private buyer in the ‘north country’.’
    • ‘Although international donors encouraged the sale, the government failed to explain where the money went, or whom the grain was sold to.’
    • ‘It was sold to a private collector at the auction.’
    • ‘He made his money selling car stickers in a business which became the second biggest in the world.’
    • ‘If it was sold to a developer, a considerable amount of money could change hands.’
    • ‘The leasing driver has the chance to buy the car outright, renegotiate a lease, or they are sold to a car auction.’
    • ‘To clarify, I don't mind waiting until all the puppies are sold to collect money.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘Regardless of which site is chosen, the present further education site is to be sold to raise money for the development.’
    • ‘A special leather-bound edition will be sold to raise money for emergency workers and their families.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His collection was sold off and dispersed in 1936, examples going to the Museum of London, Tower of London and York Castle Museum.’
    • ‘It was a brand new, clean memory stick when it was sold to a reputable dealer.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘Consider restricting your opening hours or employ a strict policy as to whom alcohol is sold to,’ she advised.’
    • ‘The products are then sold to various clients, including farmers, the forestry commission, local authorities and garden centres.’
    vending, selling off, auctioning, trading, trade, trade in
    salesmanship, sales, marketing, merchandising, promotion, advertising
    dispose of, get rid of, vend, auction, auction off
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Have a stock of (something) available for sale.
      ‘the store sells hi-fis, TVs, videos, and other electrical goods’
      • ‘Specialist hi-fi stores do sell the high end famous brands as well: Toshiba, Sony, Pioneer, Marantz.’
      • ‘That means stocking, promoting and selling hunting products.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I carried on looking at different shops selling their wares.’
      • ‘You know my supplements are sold on my Web site and they're also sold in retail stores like Whole Foods.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘Perhaps you are a salesperson or sales executive responsible for selling goods or products for one or many companies.’
      • ‘We are going into every retail store that sells the shirts and removing them.’
      • ‘Sizes go up to only 16, but the site sells ranges not available in smaller stores.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘We create a sales force that actually sells those products.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Our stock is small simply because supermarkets sell popular books cheaper than we can buy them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Active SCSI terminators are available at any PC store that sells SCSI devices.’
      • ‘Mixtures containing these are available from companies selling spices and seasonings.’
      • ‘The store sells clothing, household goods, small furniture and garden implements.’
      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. 1.2no 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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Loads of members, loads of rare goods all sold at great low prices.’
      • ‘In June last year, a similar ticket sold at auction at Sotheby's in London raised a staggering £2,760.’
      • ‘Second-hand clothing from the United States, sold at bargain prices, has become popular.’
      • ‘Our £200,000 appeal is so that Socialist Worker can be bought, read and sold at a price workers and students can afford.’
      • ‘If I sold at that price there is nowhere in the country I could get something similar.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Had Mr Power sold at the price offered to him by institutions last week, he would have had £12m in his pocket.’
      • ‘The freshest herring was salted and sold at good prices for human consumption.’
      • ‘Both were sold at below purchase price as part of a deck - clearing exercise, causing a few raised eyebrows in the City.’
      • ‘These were difficult to obtain on the open market and sold at premium prices.’
      • ‘Had it sold at that price, it would have been the granite city's most expensive ever house.’
      • ‘The applications come from IBM and other vendors, and can be bundled and sold at a compelling price.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Coal continues to be subsidized, dug out of the ground and sold at unbelievably low prices.’
      • ‘A medal awarded to a 19th Century Bolton soldier has sold at auction for almost three times more than it was expected to fetch.’
      • ‘Increased demand may simply mean the same quantity sold at a higher price, or even a smaller quantity at a still higher price.’
      • ‘They also (surprising to me) found that pink tomatoes sold at a higher price than the red ones.’
      • ‘A Van Gogh self-portrait sold at auction in New York in 1998 for $71 million.’
      • ‘It sold at the rate of a thousand copies a day in its first few weeks.’
      be bought, be purchased, go
      be priced at, sell at, retail at, go for, be, be found for, be trading at, cost
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3sell outno object Sell all of one's stock of something.
      ‘they had nearly sold out of the initial run of 75,000 copies’
      • ‘I'm hoping they just sold out of the black and white, because I'd hate to think the color one was more popular.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Our Dorking store has sold out of videos and other stores are saying that stocks are running low.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The response from the shop keeper was that he had already sold out of such furs.’
      • ‘One large supermarket had sold out of bread stocks by midday and supplies of flour were disappearing from the shelves.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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!’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘All the clothing vendors rapidly sold out of sweatshirts, fleece pullovers and other warm gear.’
      • ‘We totally sold out of Christmas trees and decorations.’
      • ‘On their first day they sold out of what they had, not expecting the turnout they got.’
      • ‘The argument was settled the next day when we sold out of our newsletter in one hour.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Parts of the UK even sold out of red hairspray as supporters rushed to do something with their hair to raise cash.’
      • ‘But when they tried to buy petrol before setting off yesterday, every filling station they visited had sold out of unleaded.’
      have none left, be out of stock of, have run out of, have sold all one's …
      View synonyms
    4. 1.4sell outno object Be all sold.
      ‘it was clear that the performances would not sell out’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A few tickets remain for the matinee performance at 1.30 pm Saturday but the evening performance is sold out.’
      • ‘Lots of press coverage was good news for the show and the ten performances sold out.’
      • ‘Both performances were sold out as parents packed the hall to see their children take centre stage.’
      • ‘I have to sit with the usherettes because the performance has been sold out for weeks.’
      • ‘Please note, Monday's performance has sold out already, and prompt booking is recommended for the rest of the week.’
      • ‘Performance sold out, but some limited view seats or returns may be available from the box office’
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘Tickets are selling well and the Friday and Saturday night performances are sold out.’
      • ‘It is only the evening performances that are sold out ahead.’
      • ‘The premiere was a popular and critical success, with scheduled performances sold out almost immediately.’
      • ‘Of the 24 professional performances, six sold out, and a further eight filled at least 85 per cent of the seats.’
      • ‘Both Saturday performances of the Monday-Saturday show have sold out and the Friday performance is almost full.’
      • ‘The matinee performance on Tuesday was sold out and people were turned away as all 253 seats were full.’
      • ‘Expected to run six weeks, it became the first show in the history of Los Angeles theater to sell out 300 consecutive performances.’
      • ‘Despite this being a work that takes literally days to perform, every performance was sold out months in advance.’
      • ‘It's only the evening performances which are sold out.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tickets for Sting's Royal Albert Hall performance are sold out already?’
      • ‘Word of mouth quickly spread, performances sold out, and the show's original run was extended.’
      be bought up, be depleted, be exhausted
      View synonyms
    5. 1.5sell throughno 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.’
      • ‘In addition to catalog sales, Venus sells through its Jacksonville retail outlet and also distributes wholesale to surf shops and speciality stores worldwide.’
      • ‘This past September, the company expanded its reach to include San Francisco and New York, primarily selling through Asian marketing outlets.’
      • ‘A further option is to sell through certain specialized shops, on the basis that the product requires sales expertise in that area.’
      • ‘These devices will avoid Intel's usual channels for its products and instead will be sold through electronics shops in the US.’
      • ‘It's a bit like the changes and options opening up in banking - you can sell through retail outlets, by telephone or online.’
      • ‘He sold through the local supermarket chains, which were then still the backbone of the American grocery industry.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Gateway sells through retail outlets, whereas Dell's business relies on the factory direct model.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Esk Valley is only a small-scale producer, with wines sold through selected independent wine merchants.’
      • ‘So, the bulk of their milk continues to be sold through established outlets.’
      • ‘We have an uncluttered retail environment to sell through, and that's a big enabler.’
      • ‘Why must CDs be sold through official - and more expensive - outlets?’
      • ‘The company will continue to provide retail registrations internationally through the Network Solutions business and will sell through its many resellers in the UK.’
      • ‘These insurance products are sold through authorized insurance brokers.’
      • ‘Their highly individual woven fabrics, made from wool and organza, are also sold through outlets such as Liberty and Co.’
      • ‘Around two-thirds of products are sold through advisers.’
      • ‘As a producer of windows and doors that are sold through home improvement outlets, we are interested in this information.’
    6. 1.6sell upBritish no object Sell all of one's property, possessions, or assets.
      ‘Ernest sold up and retired’
      • ‘We plan to live at my place for two to three years, then sell up and buy a property abroad.’
      • ‘The owners are selling up to a property developer and will retire rich.’
      • ‘So we quit our jobs, sold up everything, and came here.’
      • ‘This limits movement around the market for existing home owners who are looking to sell up, grinding the property chain to a halt.’
      • ‘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.’
    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!’
      • ‘You sold yourself for money to help your sister.’
      • ‘During the time I spent living rough, I met many homeless people, girls and boys, who had started selling themselves for 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.’
      • ‘The fact that women end up on the street selling themselves cheaply to get money for drugs is tragedy in itself.’
      work as a prostitute, prostitute oneself, sell one's body, sell oneself, walk the streets, be on the streets, solicit, work in the sex industry
      View synonyms
    8. 1.8sell outno object Abandon one's principles for reasons of expedience.
      ‘the prime minister has come under fire for selling out to the United States’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He believes the group has demonstrated that ‘independent drinks companies’ have a real alternative to selling out to one of the global drinks giants.’
      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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In his acceptance speech, Patrick talked about the raw deal given the fishermen, that they were sold out by the government.’
      • ‘I feel we have been sold out by the interim management team led by Mr Dawson.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘My brother is a strong person, but they felt they had been sold out.’
      betray, inform against, inform on
      View synonyms
    10. 1.10archaic Offer (something) dishonorably 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’
    • ‘If there's no way to sell a particular good idea, then you put it on the back-burner and look at something else.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He was as smooth a talker as any merchant in the city streets and knew how to sell many an idea to men.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I just read this claptrap from someone who is selling a ‘new’ idea for moving a vehicle.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Why do you need to sell others on the idea of being a parent?’
    • ‘Style and image is everything when you're trying to sell something as nebulous as an idea.’
    • ‘It's too soon to try to politically sell such an idea - mainly because it is a very complicated sale.’
    • ‘What is being sold here, in short, is the idea of control.’
    • ‘When we are offered a television, we are as much being sold the idea behind it as the physical reality of it.’
    • ‘Is it any surprise that so many people can be sold irrational ideas, systems, devices, and philosophies?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Well I argue that anyone who's persuaded a two-year-old to eat spinach can sell anything.’
    • ‘Firstly, with this modern mobile stuff, consumers have been sold the idea of the Internet on their phone.’
    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. 2.1 Be the reason for (something) being bought.
      ‘what sells CDs to most people is convenience’
    2. 2.2 Cause (someone) to become enthusiastic about.
      ‘I'm just not sold on the 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’
    deceive, delude, hoodwink, mislead, take in, dupe, fool, double-cross, cheat, defraud, swindle, outwit, outmanoeuvre, catch out, gull, hoax, bamboozle, beguile
    View synonyms

noun

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

    ‘the excitement of scientific achievement is too subtle a sell to stir the public’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It's an easy sell there, because that's where the commodity has value.’
    • ‘The lack of a software standard also makes DAPs a complicated sell.’
    • ‘Just as important to the sell are shapely female models suggesting that Cigarettes are babe-catchers.’
    • ‘Once you have a highly-acceptable product, it's mostly an emotional sell.’
    • ‘For one, getting capital from skittish investors proved a tough sell.’
    • ‘MBTs fulfilled all the conditions and they proved an easy sell.’
    • ‘The average rider reads these, guarding against the eventual sell.’
    • ‘By the end of the no-pressure sell, the four other guests had booked a consultation.’
    • ‘We'll look at the tough sell facing our commerce secretary in Beijing.’
    • ‘While this message was hugely popular among Russians, it was a tougher sell in the outside world.’
    • ‘Buying a second home in the Desert Southwest was not an easy sell to Sue.’
    • ‘Though the irony was glaring, it was a tough sell to ad agencies.’
    • ‘For the most part, though, foreign films have become a tough sell, and their decline is hardly a mystery.’
    • ‘All but one of the 14 analysts covering the company had a sell on it.’
    • ‘But so much of it is a real-life cartoon, that little kids seem a natural sell.’
    • ‘It's not an easy sell, but you have to work on people that are role models to different generations.’
    • ‘Still, in Leadbetter's opinion, the sell here is the method, the program, the environment.’
    • ‘We are, as Adam said, different from advertising in terms of the call to action and the straight 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 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 doesn't take much intelligence to understand that once you have sold your soul to the devil, you can't buy it back.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But when you sell your soul, no matter for what price, you die inside.’
      • ‘It's more like selling my soul to Satan, except I don't have anything to gain.’
  • sell one's life dear (or dearly)

    • Do great injury before being killed.

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

/sel//sɛl/