Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.


Rog tried to kill me for selling out secretly the idea that was bone of his bone.

And he had debts which he seems to have paid on selling out his capital.

If there's ever any selling out you'll be the first to suggest it; I never shall.

I may as well tell you—I'm thinking of selling out root and branch.

You prevented me from selling out at a profit when I had a chance!

"He's going to force her into selling out to him," put in Martin Thomas.

I recalled what Wolffert had told me of McSheen's selling out.

What do you think of the ornery, low-down rascal's selling out.

Selling out to that band of dirty thieves and town wreckers.

Beauvais is positive that the move of the archbishop is due to your selling out to him.


Old English sellan "to give, furnish, supply, lend; surrender, give up; deliver to; promise," from Proto-Germanic *saljan "offer up, deliver" (cf. Old Norse selja "to hand over, deliver, sell;" Old Frisian sella, Old High German sellen "to give, hand over, sell;" Gothic saljan "to offer a sacrifice"), ultimately from PIE root *sel- (3) "to take, grasp."

Meaning "to give up for money" had emerged by c.1000, but in Chaucer selle still can mean "to give." Students of Old English learn early that the word that looks like sell usually means "give." An Old English word for "to sell" was bebycgan, from bycgan "to buy."

Slang meaning "to swindle" is from 1590s. The noun phrase hard sell is recorded from 1952. To sell one's soul is from c.1570. Sell-by date is from 1972. To sell like hot cakes is from 1839. Selling-point attested from 1959.

To sell (someone) down the river is first recorded 1927, but probably from or with recollection of slavery days, on notion of sale from the Upper South to the cotton plantations of the Deep South (attested in this literal sense since 1851).

Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.