Definition of belly in English:



  • 1The front part of the human trunk below the ribs, containing the stomach and bowels:

    ‘his fat belly stuck out over his trousers’
    • ‘She was then tossed across a horse's withers and cried out involuntarily as her belly slammed into the horse's back.’
    • ‘He held his breath and swung his arms out, but a fist buried itself in his belly, emptying his lungs, and when he sucked in air, he knew he was in terrible trouble.’
    • ‘Now he puts the light sounds with something else remembered, with primrose, with laughter, and down through him a prickle runs and it seems to stop in his belly, below him.’
    • ‘Jon heard a yell, sounding very far away, and felt the pain yank him up like a string through his belly.’
    • ‘So the advance in laparoscopy has allowed just the instruments to enter the belly.’
    • ‘The doctor fearing that Penguin's internal organs had been dangerously damaged, decided to open his belly up to examine his entrails.’
    • ‘Use slow, steady, deep breaths from your belly, not your chest.’
    • ‘My hands went to the Doctor's chest and I made to push, but he batted my arms apart and drove two stiffened fingers into my belly.’
    • ‘Starting in her belly, an animal like grumble worked its way from her gut to her throat.’
    • ‘Our little girl was wriggling around trying to get comfy while the sonographer bounced the ultrasound stick on my belly to try and get her to shift to a good position so we could see all four chambers of her heart.’
    • ‘Grubby politicians kiss babies; but these two cynical opportunists have chosen to exploit emaciated infants with distended bellies as the visual soundbite for 2005.’
    1. 1.1 The stomach, especially as representing the body's need for food:
      ‘they'll fight all the better on empty bellies’
      • ‘You have a decent place to live, electricity, food in your belly, clean water to drink, clothes on your back, etc.’
      • ‘It won't put medicine in decrepit hospitals or food in empty bellies.’
      • ‘With a warm belly full of food, the fire was extinguished and we were back on our way, often returning after midnight.’
      • ‘A promise is neither food in your belly nor actual value in your bank account.’
      • ‘It's bad enough living this way, feeding your kids low-cost food that fills their bellies but doesn't fulfill the requirements of good nutrition.’
      • ‘I want to be part of the generation that says no to extreme poverty, says no to the idea that children can die for the lack of a cheap immunization or food in his belly.’
      • ‘Hunger also spurs millions of children to drop out of school in order to scavenge for food, and those who manage to attend school despite empty bellies find it excruciatingly hard to concentrate.’
      • ‘The next day I finally got food in my belly and I kissed the one that fed me with all my heart’
      • ‘Pride doesn't pay the bills, keep the wolf from the door or put food in bellies.’
      • ‘Then she decided that I needed some solid food in my belly, so she made me sit at the dining room table and forbade me from helping her while she made a hearty dinner for us.’
      • ‘She had a home, plenty of clothes and food in her belly.’
      • ‘But after this, he thought of what a sensational delight it would be to feel tears running backwards through himself and into his empty belly.’
      • ‘We stood, our bellies content and our bodies consumed with fatigue.’
      • ‘Taking these drugs is quite a complicated procedure, which often involves taking a combination of 10 or more drugs at the correct time of day, and not on a belly starved of food or water.’
      • ‘She claims to know what I need, and perhaps she does, because I need so little - the sun to rise; food in my belly.’
      • ‘Plus, having food in your belly can lower your chances of upset stomach, which vitamins can sometimes cause.’
      • ‘In an era when table diplomacy has become an important element of social communication and business activity, people are often at risk of taking food beyond their bellies ' capacity.’
      • ‘Food was scarce, and the infant Ono made up a game of visualising sumptuous feasts to keep their minds off their empty bellies.’
      • ‘In the long term, we want our agricultural policies to focus on producing food to fill our bellies and not on producing crops to service our debts.’
      • ‘You know that they will come with empty bellies but you have absolutely no clue what to feed these ravenous guests.’
      • ‘What we have done is to feed them enough to fill their bellies of the right foods, giving them no more than they need at one time, but doing it several times a day.’
      stomach, abdomen, paunch, middle, midriff, girth
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The underside of a bird or other animal:
      ‘grasses were said to have been tall enough to brush the bellies of horses’
      • ‘The animal rolled onto his belly and slowly sat up from the position.’
      • ‘Photographs of the belly and chest were taken while the dog was standing on its hind feet and two people held the front feet displaying the armpits.’
      • ‘The Silver-eyes, like the ones I saw in Australia, have gray backs and gray bellies.’
      • ‘With quickness and agility, the boy went under the belly of the horse, dodging big hooves and the swishing head of the beast.’
      • ‘The ventral or under side of the animal including the belly, is lighter in color than the dorsal or top side. They can have prominent hip stripes.’
      • ‘And you have to be certain that you don't get impatient and smack the horse in the belly and ruin everything it was understanding up to that point.’
      • ‘They are light underneath, with finely streaked chests and bellies.’
      • ‘But the wily Ulysses had tied his men under the bellies of the animals.’
      • ‘The birds were spectacular with a black belly with large white spots on the side and a deep chestnut collar and a white cheekpatch.’
      • ‘Our bird had a brown belly, however, and I turned the page to Common Yellowthroat.’
      • ‘Juncos, the dark gray birds with the white bellies, are also sparrows, but they are so distinctive that you don't need a description from me.’
      • ‘The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping.’
      • ‘The blinded Cyclops at the cave exit feels the emerging animals, under whose bellies Odysseus and his followers are clinging.’
      • ‘Rather than flapping the wings from back to belly, as other birds do, the partridges flap from head to tail.’
      • ‘His belly and flanks are white, and his rump is black.’
      • ‘Laying on their bellies, horses concealed by brush, James, Adam and Hoss waited, scarcely breathing.’
      • ‘Not only were these people swimming with about two dozen manatees, but they were also rubbing the manatees' bellies and backs.’
      • ‘The dish is whale, minke whale, a little strip of raw flesh from the belly of an animal protected from commercial hunting by a moratorium that has survived 15 years.’
      • ‘Gray Jays are medium-sized, gray birds with lighter bellies.’
      • ‘Once, grasses in the Big Bend region of Texas were said to have been tall enough to brush the bellies of horses.’
    3. 1.3[mass noun] A cut of pork from the underside between the legs.
      • ‘He has brought a piece of Village Farm's belly pork and the head chef wants him to prepare and cook a signature menu for the restaurant.’
      • ‘When my son Joe came for dinner on a cold Sunday evening, I cooked some diced rump steak slowly with slivers of belly pork and winter vegetables, moistened with dry vermouth and canned tomatoes.’
      • ‘Choucroute, a statement of Alsatian identity on a plate, is a sturdy dish of sauerkraut laden with cured and boiled meats: smoked sausage, ham knuckles, belly pork.’
      • ‘Octopus and squid ceviche, salt cod croquettes and pot-roast belly pork and cheeks were all good enough to go back for.’
      • ‘Living on a staple diet of belly pork, collar bacon, and beef dripping, her arteries should have been as choked as the M1 on a Friday evening.’
      • ‘Streaky bacon is made from belly of pork, while back comes from the leaner loin - a more expensive pork joint, so accordingly more expensive as bacon.’
      • ‘Tuna confit with pork belly and béarnaise was another new notion that did not fail.’
      • ‘Arrange the cut fillet around the pork belly and drizzle with the sauce.’
      • ‘The meat was apparently very tasty, but very fatty, which one would expect belly pork to be.’
      • ‘Reheat pork belly in simmering water for ten minutes and cut open bag.’
      • ‘In China I had to be dragged away from Dong Po pork, a dish of fatty belly pork cooked for four hours with rice wine, ginger, sugar and soy sauce until it is translucent.’
      • ‘A commendably high number of dishes come with gravy, and other choices include venison pie, pork belly and mash, fish and chips or Cajun chicken.’
      • ‘‘We use those parts of the pig that are the least valued: the soft belly pork, the lungs, head, ears, tongue and kidneys ’, body parts which have no place in the average steak and roast regime.’
      • ‘They contain lots of seasonings, and the ingredients are mostly high in saturated fat, for example, pork belly, fatty meat or instant noodles.’
      • ‘The food is both inventive and hearty - braised belly pork with black pudding, anyone?’
      • ‘Swap the chicken for a slab of belly pork, again shredding the meltingly tender meat back into the rice to serve.’
      • ‘There's lush slabs of slow-roasted pork belly and meltingly tender duck legs, a piquant escabeche of red mullet and a truly remarkable lemon tart to finish.’
      • ‘Add the belly pork, 150 ml soy sauce, the sherry, the halved red chilli, two cloves of garlic, two thirds of the sliced root ginger and the star anise.’
      • ‘This morning, fairly confident that I could maintain a steady supply of smoke at a fairly constant temperature I hung the 2 sides of belly pork in to be smoked for 24 hours.’
      • ‘Divide pork belly and sauce evenly between four vacuum-packed bags.’
    4. 1.4 A pig's belly as food, especially as a traded commodity.
      • ‘Her husband, Harvey, is a commodity broker, but he would sooner die, she insists on his behalf, than trade pork bellies.’
      • ‘After all, pork bellies are a commodity, and they make the Farm Report every day.’
      • ‘You can buy pork bellies the same way you buy stocks.’
      • ‘It could be tied to commodities like a bushel of wheat, or a pork belly.’
      • ‘The owners treated their serfs as if they were a commodity like pork bellies.’
      • ‘We visited the corn exchange to see the opening of the morning's trade in agricultural commodities as diverse as soya bean, cotton, pork bellies, wheat and oilseeds.’
  • 2The rounded underside of a ship or aircraft.

    • ‘Astronauts will try to pull out or cut off two fabric strips that are sticking out from the belly of the shuttle.’
    • ‘Often it arrived in the form of ballast in the bellies of ships, which ensured that everything apart from the bilge water could be traded to maximise the trip.’
    • ‘They went to the belly of the ship, further than Ramona had ever ventured, and found a door.’
    • ‘The hook-up is made by directions given to the receiver aircraft through a system of lights located on the belly of the aircraft just behind the nose gear.’
    • ‘NASA officials say they don't think a piece of tile that hit Discovery's belly during liftoff is a serious matter.’
    • ‘And so it was that the missile, diving like a kingfisher, struck the ship in the belly.’
    • ‘On the other hand, the airframe damage to the aircraft belly was considerable.’
    • ‘At the beginning of the film, we see Dracula slumbering in his coffin in the belly of a ship on its way to England.’
    • ‘Engines began to hum deep in the belly of the ship, but Boertousce's grin only widened, the lips peeling back as if mocking his efforts.’
    • ‘They continued walking, taking every ramp they could find that might take them further into the belly of the ship.’
    • ‘The prisoners milled around the belly of the ship as they tried to find a place to call home.’
    • ‘The belly of the ship rumbled as the Interstellar Drive Unit ignited.’
    • ‘NASA is studying videotape that shows a piece of tile falling off the shuttle's belly during this morning's launch.’
    • ‘So now the aircraft's on its belly sliding down the runway.’
    • ‘Matthew followed the others to the stairwell that led down into the belly of the ship.’
    • ‘Most of the incoming freight arrives at Heathrow in the belly of wide-bodied passenger aircraft and is then sent onwards to Scotland via road, rail and sea.’
    • ‘Planes also have two red rotating beacons - one on the roof and one on the belly of the aircraft.’
    • ‘But, before we can fully digest our thoughts, a man pushes us down a set of stairs into the belly of the ship.’
    • ‘Bull came up from the belly of the ship and stood on the deck.’
    • ‘From deep within the belly of the ship, a low whirring sound began, steadily gaining pitch and velocity.’
    • ‘Styles had reached the belly of the ship where two men were hard at work pumping the bilge.’
    • ‘She turned to see her father wave to her and then ascend the ramp into the belly of the ship.’
    undercarriage, underbelly, underside, undersurface, underneath, underpart, lower side, bottom
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1 The top surface of an instrument of the violin family, over which the strings are placed.
      • ‘On the cello the distance from the top nut to the top edge of the belly is 28 cm, from the edge of the belly to the bridge 40 - 42 cm.’
      • ‘The soundpost is a cylindrical piece of wood inside the violin, viola or cello body that joins the belly to the underside of the instrument, and is located below one foot of the bridge.’
      • ‘The lira type had a broad pear shape, with a wooden belly and usually three strings.’
      • ‘The bridge must be made of the proper grade of maple, properly cut with regard to the grain of the wood, and perfectly fitted to the belly of the cello.’
      • ‘The bridge transmits the strings' vibrations to the violin belly, or soundboard, which amplifies the sound.’


  • 1Swell or cause to swell:

    [no object] ‘as she leaned forward her pullover bellied out’
    [with object] ‘the wind bellied the sail out’
    • ‘Caught under by the breeze, the awnings of the fore-deck bellied upwards and collapsed slowly, and above their heavy flapping the gray stuff of Captain Whalley's roomy coat fluttered incessantly around his arms and trunk.’
    • ‘Then the partitioning curtain bellied out ahead of a draught, and ashes from the fire scudded in among our bare feet.’
    • ‘After the balloon bellied out into full form, its five passengers climbed into the basket.’
    • ‘And the sails were bellied out by the wind, and far from the coast were they joyfully borne past the Posideian headland.’
    • ‘As the sail unfurled and bellied out in the wind, it blocked the ferryman's view of the island.’
    fill out, puff out
    View synonyms
  • 2belly up toNorth American informal [no object] Move or sit close to (a bar or table):

    ‘regulars who first bellied up to the bar years before’
    • ‘But I was glad to belly up to the bar and to pay my money to connect with real people with real passion.’
    • ‘So on my first visit, I dutifully bellied up to the upstairs sushi bar, ordered a shiny portion of botan shrimp, and prepared to ignore the contents of the standard brasserie menu filled with the same old tired frites and frisée salads.’
    • ‘I bellied up to a flimsy, portable bar that had been set up for the occasion.’
    • ‘As for the other end of the age spectrum, there's a lavish supply of players who have yet to be legally eligible to belly up to the bar in most parts of the country.’
    • ‘Soon a small posse of men in black roll into town in big dark luxury car and belly up to the diner counter.’
    • ‘And while there is no data to provide proof, it's quite likely that those bellying up to the bar are older than usual when a large convention or trade show is in town.’
    • ‘The two men looked at us as we bellied up to the bar.’
    • ‘So you belly up to a bar in hopes of getting a yeasty taste of the brewer's art, maybe a fine dark beer with plenty of malt, a good head, and some real punch to it.’
    • ‘So, all of you, sing a happy, lusty rendition of Happy Birthday for me and then belly up to the bar!’
    • ‘But not everyone enjoys the opportunity to belly up, regardless of what's offered.’
    • ‘I knew Whiskey Bar had picked up a decent-sized market share (thanks in no small part to the quality of the commenters who belly up to the bar here) but I had no idea how much this kind of thing costs.’
    • ‘But now, even in Lexington, Kentucky - the heart of Tobacco Country - a man can no longer belly up to the bar and have a cold one and smoke.’
    • ‘So belly up to one of the 100 or so Calgary bars and pubs that pour it and toast St. Paddy's day with a brown beer.’
    • ‘Cowboys belly up to the bar, drinking the local brew.’
    • ‘The brand-new Midfield Terminal, opening this month, features the OraOxygen Spa where the jet-lagged can get a massage or belly up to the oxygen bar for a rejuvenating whiff.’
    • ‘These shakes, and similar products, offer a quick way to chug some extra calories without having to belly up to the dining table yet again.’
    • ‘When it comes time to make a deal, we know how to get them to belly up to the bar.’
    • ‘So, on went the leash and Cinnamon bellied up to the bar.’
    • ‘It's also right by the entrance, and invites you to belly up - if my table wasn't ready I'd feel good about having to wait in the bar.’
    • ‘Although medical professionals have praised the current health drive, which encourages alcoholics to acknowledge their condition and seek remedial help, they are eager to prevent a fresh generation from bellying up to the bar.’
    • ‘‘You're the first,’ the bartender said as I bellied up to the little bar at Sueños, the aptly named new Mexican restaurant in Chelsea.’


  • go belly up

    • informal Go bankrupt:

      ‘the company was about to go belly up’
      • ‘After Nadia got the sack from her employers who went belly up as Americans call bankruptcy, she applied to ‘zillions’ of tech firms all over America.’
      • ‘Wang eventually went belly up, but the pain of that period, particularly the sackings, still haunts him, he says.’
      • ‘He estimates that his fledgling label lost $400,000 when the Chicago-based distributor went belly up.’
      • ‘The worst that can happen is that your company goes belly up, and this is particularly pertinent when it comes to with-profits investments.’
      • ‘If they went belly up, bankrupt, shut down, and can't take their cruise ships out of port you would be there holding your bags quite literally and an expensive but useless ticket for your cruise.’
      • ‘We can, of course, cite examples of businesses that have flourished this, organic, way (alongside the sad roll-call of dot.coms who went belly up, gorged with useless venture capital).’
      • ‘Art, good or bad, is always on the point of going belly up.’
      • ‘‘We nearly went belly up in 1998,’ Honda-san said.’
      • ‘Let me switch gears, because we only have a short time left, to talk about this Enron, this energy company that just went belly up, went bankrupt, causing a lot of pain for workers, their investors.’
      • ‘However, it is doubtful whether the bank could practice this expansion for too long since it runs the risk of not being able to clear its checks and thus go belly up.’
      • ‘Even if your employer goes belly up, the government says you will still get 80% of your final salary pension throughout retirement.’
      • ‘If the company goes belly up, the share will be worthless forever.’
      • ‘Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up and Bonsai Bank plans to cut back some of its branches.’
      • ‘Instead, in 1997 came this stunner: Yamaichi went belly up.’
      • ‘It's going to cost too much, the industry will go belly up!’
      • ‘There's a hotel that's been standing, unfinished, for years - the investors went belly up in a crash, and no one's finished the project.’
      • ‘The hotel that once employed her in its laundry went belly up three years or so ago.’
      • ‘If Fiji goes belly up, it threatens the dependent economies of surrounding nations.’
      • ‘Actually, he thinks that if his career ever went belly up, he'd open an American-style diner somewhere between Glasgow and Oban.’
      • ‘But if a company rep sells something which subsequently goes belly up, then the company itself is liable.’


Old English belig ‘bag’, of Germanic origin, from a base meaning swell, be inflated.