from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various aquatic carnivorous mammals of the families Phocidae and Otariidae, found chiefly in cold regions and having a sleek torpedo-shaped body and limbs that are modified into paddlelike flippers.
  • noun The pelt or fur of one of these animals, especially a fur seal.
  • noun Leather made from the hide of one of these animals.
  • intransitive verb To hunt seals.
  • noun A device or material that is used to close off or fasten an opening or connection, especially to prevent the escape of a liquid or gas.
  • noun An airtight closure.
  • noun Something, such as a piece of tape, that is placed on a product or package to show that the contents have not been tampered with.
  • noun The water in the trap of a drain that prevents sewer gas from escaping into a room.
  • noun A design used to identify a person or thing or to show that something is authentic, accurate, or of good quality.
  • noun A small decorative paper sticker.
  • noun A die or signet having a raised or incised emblem used to stamp an impression on a receptive substance such as wax or lead.
  • noun The impression so made.
  • noun The design or emblem itself, belonging exclusively to the user.
  • noun A small disk or wafer of wax, lead, or paper bearing such an imprint and affixed to a document to prove authenticity or to secure it.
  • noun An indication or symbol regarded as guaranteeing or authenticating something.
  • transitive verb To close or fasten with a seal.
  • transitive verb To prevent (a liquid or gas) from escaping.
  • transitive verb To cover, secure, or fill up (an opening).
  • transitive verb To apply a waterproof coating to.
  • transitive verb To secure or prevent passage into and out of (an area). Often used with off:
  • transitive verb To affix a seal to (something) in order to prove authenticity, accuracy, or quality.
  • transitive verb To establish or determine irrevocably.
  • transitive verb Mormon Church To make (a marriage, for example) eternally binding; solemnize forever.
  • idiom ((one's) lips are sealed) Used to indicate that one will not disclose a piece of information.
  • idiom (under seal) Having an impression or emblem attesting to a document's authenticity and reliability.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A marine car nivorous mammal of the order Feræ, suborder Pinnipedia, and family Phocidæ or Otariidæ; any pinniped not a walrus—for example, a hair-seal, a fur-seal, an eared seal, of which there are numerous genera and species.
  • noun In heraldry, a bearing representing a creature something like a walrus, with a long fish-like body and the head of a carnivorous animal.
  • To hunt or catch seals.
  • noun Sealskin; leather made from the skin of the seal.
  • noun The amount of lap over the edge of an opening by which a lid or valve projects to make a tight joint and prevent leakage past it.
  • noun See day.
  • noun An impressed device, as of a letter, cipher, or figure, in lead, wax, paper, or other soft substance, affixed to a document in connection with or in place of a signature, as a mark of authenticity and confirmation, or for the purpose of fastening up the document in order to conceal the contents.
  • noun The engraved stone, glass, or metal stamp by which such an impression is made. Seals are sometimes worn as rings, and frequently as pendants from the watch-chain or fob.
  • noun A small disk of paper, or the like, attached to a document after the signature, and held to represent the seal of wax, which is in this case dispensed with.
  • noun That which authenticates, confirms, or ratifies; confirmation; as surance; pledge.
  • noun A sealed instrument; a writ or warrant given under seal.
  • noun The office of the sealer or official who authenticates by affixing a seal.
  • noun The wax or wafer with which a folded letter or an envelop is closed; also, any other substance similarly used to assure security or secrecy, as lead for sealing bonded cars, etc. See leaden seal, below.
  • noun Figuratively, that which effectually closes, confines, or secures; that which makes fast.
  • noun In plumbing, a small quantity of water left standing in a trap or curve of tubing connected with a drain or sewer in order to prevent the escape of gas from below.
  • noun Eccles.:
  • noun The sign of the cross.
  • noun Baptism.
  • noun Confirmation.
  • noun Same as holy lamb (which see, under lamb).
  • noun In old medicine, the so-called sigil or signature of a plant, mineral, etc. See signature.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English sele, from Old English seolh.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English, die or signet for stamping an impression, from Old French seel, from Vulgar Latin *sigellum, from Latin sigillum, diminutive of signum, sign, seal; see sekw- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English sele, from an inflectional form of Old English seolh, from Proto-Germanic *selhaz (compare North Frisian selich, Middle Dutch seel, zēle, Old High German selah, Danish sæl, Middle Low German sale), either from Proto-Indo-European *selk, *solk 'to pull' (compare English dialect sullow 'plough') or from Finno-Ugric *šülke (compare Finnish dialect hylki, standard hylje, Estonian hüljes). More at sullow.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English sǣlan ("to bind").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word seal.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • When I was in college, I used to have to visit the delightful ladies in the education office to get offical things embossed with the school insignia. Upon being asked, one secretary would say to the other, "It's time to use the seal," or some such introductory comment. Then both middle-aged women would start whooping. Sometimes hand motions would accompany the performance.

    July 6, 2007