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From Middle English counseil, from Old French conseil, from Latin cōnsilium; akin to cōnsulō (take counsel, consult).


  • enPR: kounʹ-səl, IPA(key): /ˈkaʊn.səl/
  • (file)
  • Homophone: council


counsel (countable and uncountable, plural counsels)

  1. The exchange of opinions and advice especially in legal issues; consultation.
    • Bible, Matthew xxvii. 1
      All the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus, to put him to death.
  2. Exercise of judgment; prudence.
    • Hooker
      They all confess, therefore, in the working of that first cause, that counsel is used.
  3. Advice; guidance.
    • Shakespeare
      I like thy counsel; well hast thou advised.
    • Tennyson
      It was ill counsel had misled the girl.
  4. Deliberate purpose; design; intent; scheme; plan.
    • Bible, Psalms xxxiii. 11
      The counsel of the Lord standeth forever.
    • Bible, Proverbs xii. 5
      The counsels of the wicked are deceit.
  5. (obsolete) A secret opinion or purpose; a private matter.
    • Gower
      thilke lord [] to whom no counsel may be hid
  6. A lawyer, as in Queen's Counsel (QC).

Usage notes[edit]

In the sense 'lawyer', the plural is usually unchanged counsel.




counsel (third-person singular simple present counsels, present participle counselling or counseling, simple past and past participle counselled or counseled)

  1. To give advice, especially professional advice.
    The lawyer counselled his client to remain silent.
    Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals counsel clients.
  2. To recommend



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