- a cylinder, frame, or other device that turns on an axis and is used to wind up or pay out something.
- a rotatory device attached to a fishing rod at the butt, for winding up or letting out the line.
- a spool on which film, especially motion-picture film, is wound.
- a roll of motion-picture film.
- a holder for roll film in a developing tank.
- a quantity of something wound on a reel.
- Chiefly British. a spool of sewing thread; a roller or bobbin of sewing thread.
verb (used with object)
- to wind on a reel, as thread, yarn, etc.
- to unwind (silk filaments) from a cocoon.
- to pull or draw by winding a line on a reel: to reel a fish in.
- reel off, to say, write, or produce quickly and easily: The old sailor reeled off one story after another.
- off the reel,
- without pause; continuously.
- without delay or hesitation; immediately.
Also right off the reel.
verb (used without object)
- to sway or rock under a blow, shock, etc.: The boxer reeled and fell.
- to waver or fall back: The troops reeled and then ran.
- to sway about in standing or walking, as from dizziness, intoxication, etc.; stagger.
- to turn round and round; whirl.
- to have a sensation of whirling: His brain reeled.
verb (used with object)
- to cause to reel.
- an act of reeling; a reeling or staggering movement.
- any of various cylindrical objects or frames that turn on an axis and onto which film, magnetic tape, paper tape, wire, thread, etc, may be woundUS equivalent: spool
- angling a device for winding, casting, etc, consisting of a revolving spool with a handle, attached to a fishing rod
- a roll of celluloid exhibiting a sequence of photographs to be projected
- to wind (cotton, thread, etc) onto a reel
- (foll by in, out etc) to wind or draw with a reelto reel in a fish
verb (mainly intr)
- to sway, esp under the shock of a blow or through dizziness or drunkenness
- to whirl about or have the feeling of whirling abouthis brain reeled
- a staggering or swaying motion or sensation
- any of various lively Scottish dances, such as the eightsome reel and foursome reel for a fixed number of couples who combine in square and circular formations
- a piece of music having eight quavers to the bar composed for or in the rhythm of this dance
“to wind on a reel,” late 14c., from reel (n.1). Verbal phrase reel off “recite without pause or effort” is from 1837. Fishing sense is from 1849. Related: Reeled; reeling.
“frame turning on an axis,” especially one on which thread is wound, late Old English hreol “reel for winding thread,” from Proto-Germanic *hrehulaz; probably related to hrægel “garment,” and Old Norse hræll “spindle,” from PIE *krek- “to weave, beat” (cf. Greek krokus “nap of cloth”).
Specifically of the fishing rod attachment from 1726; of a film projector apparatus from 1896. Reel-to-reel type of tape deck is attested from 1958.
“lively Highland dance,” 1580s, probably a special use of reel (n.1), which had a secondary sense of “a whirl, whirling movement” (1570s) or from reel (v.1). Applied to the music for such a dance from 1590s.
“to whirl around,” late 14c., also “sway, swing, rock, become unsteady” (late 14c.), “stagger as a result of a blow, etc.” (c.1400), probably from reel (n.1), on notion of “spinning.” Of the mind, from 1796. Related: Reeled; reeling.