General English

  • verb to live somewhere

Cars & Driving

  • noun in a contact breaker ignition system, the angle in degrees of distributor shaft rotation during which the contact breaker points remain closed; the smaller the contact gap, the larger the dwell (angle), which determines the charging time of the ignition coil.
  • noun in a breakerless ignition system, the time during which the electronic control unit allows current to flow through the primary winding of the coil, which in ignition systems with a Hall generator is determined by the width of the vanes


  • A delay in a process or an action. For instance, a programmed pause in the work cycle of a robot. Also called dwell time.


  • noun a short time during which a hand-worked press is in contact with the paper, or when a blocking tool is in contact with cover material

Origin & History of “dwell”

Dwell has changed its meaning remarkably over the centuries. In Old English it meant ‘confuse, lead astray’. It goes back to a Germanic base *dwel-, *dwal-, *dwul-, which also produced Old English dwola ‘error’, Gothic dwals ‘foolish’, and Old high German gitwelan ‘be stunned’, and beyond that to Indo-European *dhwel-, source of Greek tholós ‘dirt’ and Irish dall ‘blind’. Already by the end of the Old English period, ‘lead astray’ had progressed to ‘hinder, delay’, probably under the influence of the related Old Norse dvelja ‘delay’, and this subsequently developed through ‘linger’ to (in the 13th century) ‘make one’s home in a place’.