Definition of knell in English:



  • 1[in singular] The sound of a bell, especially when rung solemnly for a death or funeral.

    • ‘I was sure anyone within five miles would have heard it the way they hear a church bell's knell or a train's whistle.’
    • ‘As the knell died away, a black flag slowly rose up the mast and stopped half-way.’
    • ‘The very word is like a knell, signalling the approach of death.’
    toll, tolling, ringing, chime, clang, dong, peal, stroke, resounding, reverberation, clangour, boom
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    1. 1.1Used in reference to an announcement, event, or sound that warns of the end of something.
      ‘emails and text messages are sounding the knell for the written word’
      • ‘The huntsman's horn sounded the final knell when the last traditional hunt by the Tedworth came to en end.’
      • ‘If you fear this may be just one more story to sound a warning knell about the IT skills shortage - not to worry.’
      end, beginning of the end, presage of the end, death knell
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[NO OBJECT]literary
  • 1 (of a bell) ring solemnly, especially for a death or funeral.

    ring, peal, toll, sound
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    1. 1.1[with object]Proclaim (something) by or as if by a knell.
      • ‘I could almost hear the two-tone foghorns knelling my demise.’
      herald, signal, announce, proclaim, usher in, introduce, launch, celebrate, mark, signify, indicate, give notice of
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Old English cnyll (noun), cnyllan (verb), of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch knal (noun), knallen (verb) bang, pop, crack. The current spelling (dating from the 16th century) is perhaps influenced by bell.