[Vocabulary] How long a spell is?

nyggus

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Hi,

I'm just reading Lee Child's "The Affair". Consider these two fragments:

  • There was a bell on the desk [...]. I hit it twice, and a polite ding dong echoed for a spell, but it produced no results. (Italics original, boldface mine)
  • The waitress half-turned and I followed her gaze to the old couple settled in at their table for four. They were still reading. The waitress said, "They usually sit a spell in here, and then they go back."

I looked up "spell" in Merriam-Webster and found, among other definitions, that "a spell" is "an indeterminate period of time". Should I then try to underdstand the meaning from the context, or rather should I understand that a spell is just an indeterminate period of time, which can mean a little bit or much longer?

Thanks,
nyggus
 

nyggus

Key Member
Joined
Jan 3, 2006
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Academic
Native Language
Polish
Home Country
Poland
Current Location
Poland
Context suggests that the period of time in your first sentence is of very short duration - a few seconds.
The period of time in the second sentence will be longer. We cannot say for certain. It could be anything from a few minutes to perhaps an hour or so.


Which basically means that I should get the meaning from the context.

Thanks.
 
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