Main definitions of bell in English

: bell1bell2Bell3

bell1

noun

  • 1A hollow object, typically made of metal and having the shape of a deep inverted cup widening at the lip, that sounds a clear musical note when struck, typically by means of a clapper inside.

    ‘the church bells tolled’
    ‘a bell tinkled as he went in the shop’
    as modifier ‘the bell chamber of the church spire’
    • ‘Three hundred and forty years earlier another bell ringer described his fear that the bell or the church tower would fall on top of him.’
    • ‘A bell tolled one long note of mourning as she realised this meant farewell not only to her father, but to her mother as well.’
    • ‘All of a sudden, the bell sounds, rather alarmingly.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the serenity is pierced by the distinct tone of a ringing bell.’
    • ‘The story goes that a large bell was tolled whenever the soup was prepared.’
    • ‘Nine enormous, new bronze bells are on their way to Paris to give the medieval Notre Dame Cathedral a more modern sound.’
    • ‘At noon the bell on the guardhouse tower and several church bells began tolling for two hours.’
    • ‘He partook of a leisurely breakfast, and set off to the sound of church bells in the clear air.’
    • ‘As the preacher crossed himself, the church bell began to toll.’
    • ‘He often chimed the bells himself before service.’
    • ‘The soldier's fiancé had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking.’
    • ‘In all cases, the shape of the bell is critical in projecting the sound, giving it much of its characteristic tone-colour and stabilizing its pitch.’
    • ‘It had a steepled roof with a weathervane at the top of the steeple and a brass bell tucked within the open wooden tower.’
    • ‘Winter night closed in around me and I heard the faint sound of church bells chiming the hour.’
    • ‘The whole is accompanied by a ghostly, premonitory sound of deep tolling bells.’
    • ‘It wasn't a bright sound like most bells, but more hollow and deep.’
    • ‘Suddenly, the sound of clear bells came bouncing up the sides of the mountain ranges from the town by the river below.’
    • ‘Those clanging bells reminded me of another vendor who used to make similar rounds in the neighbourhood.’
    • ‘Some 300 others stood outside, laying wreaths at the old iron gates where a bell ringer tolled sorrowful notes from a small bell.’
    • ‘At midnight, the bells would chime across the city, town or village.’
    chime, gong, alarm
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A device that includes or sounds like a bell, used to give a signal or warning.
      ‘a bicycle bell’
      • ‘A man on a bicycle rode by, ringing his bell to signal people to move.’
      • ‘Carter throws me a menacing look, but is unable to follow up with a threatening comment, because the bell has just rung.’
      • ‘The warning bell rang signaling two minutes before their next class.’
      • ‘The warning bell for dinner rang, signaling for the household to start getting ready for dinner.’
      • ‘When the school bell rang, she snuck quickly out and made her way to the rack where her bicycle waited.’
      • ‘The warning bell rang, so I parted ways with Ivy, and went to my class.’
      • ‘Five seconds into the take-off a warning bell sounds to inform the captain that there is a problem with the number two engine and that it is on fire.’
      • ‘The older, more tired man rings the bell to signal the bus to stop.’
      • ‘The final bell has just rung and we're free, free to party, sleep, or study.’
      • ‘When we walked in, the door hit a charming brass bell and it made a soft ‘ding’.’
      • ‘After a few minutes of listening to the mindless chatter of my peers, the bell rang, signaling the movement of the student body to first period.’
      • ‘Just as I was about to answer, the shrill school bell sounded throughout the halls.’
      • ‘Then the bell rang, signaling it was time to get to class.’
      • ‘Having just begun a fearsome maths test I still remember the surge of relief when the electric bell sounded its continuous warning.’
      • ‘As the seventh hour dismissal bell sounded, I remained in my desk.’
      • ‘He strikes the bike bell, and rolls away, the sound of the squeaky wheel dominating.’
      • ‘She had pressed the bell indicating that she wanted the bus to halt at the next stop where she would disembark.’
      • ‘It is in very good condition, and has a very loud bell.’
      • ‘We were all in the process of changing when a loud, shrill bell sounded, warning us of a fire.’
      • ‘But when she finally gained the front doors, she discovered neither bell nor knocker.’
    2. 1.2the bell A bell rung to denote intervals of time, such as (in boxing and other sports) to mark the start or end of a round.
      ‘at the bell, we dashed out of Latin class’
      ‘the fight went to the final bell for a decision’
      • ‘He struggled to his corner as the bell had already ended the round.’
      • ‘He won the world heavyweight title at the age of 22 when his opponent was unable to answer the bell for the seventh round.’
      • ‘Just as the bell ended the fifteenth round, Frazier put his hands up and yelled something at Ali.’
      • ‘He was still landing those bruising jabs at the bell in his going away triumph.’
      • ‘At the bell, he attacked and kept firing until the ref called a halt.’
      • ‘Right before the bell for the first round the anticipation was high.’
      • ‘Even at the bell to start the round she stood for a second and looked in disbelief at her coach.’
      • ‘He could barely contain himself when his opponent could not answer the bell for the seventh.’
      • ‘The referee stepped between them thinking he heard the bell ending the round.’
      • ‘At the bell for round one, he came out fast and was up on his toes circling to the left nonstop.’
      • ‘Johnson needed the judges help too, because there was no way the fight would end between first and final bell.’
      • ‘He looked as if he was going to eke out another methodical round until the two fighters clashed heads just seconds before the bell.’
      • ‘As the round ended, both fighters got toe-to-toe and exchanged savage blows until and after the bell.’
      • ‘By the fifth round, he had a point deducted for hitting after the bell.’
      • ‘Barkley charged out of his corner at the bell for the third round and backed Hearns into a corner.’
      • ‘Sampson mauled Johnson the entire last half of the second round and the corner threw in the towel at the bell for round three.’
      • ‘To their credit, the boys answered the bell for round two, but it didn't last long.’
      • ‘Two minutes after the bell for round one, Liston was the new undisputed champ.’
      • ‘Harrison could well have finished it but the bell intervened to his opponent's relief.’
      • ‘Referee Tony Perez reached five in the count and the bell couldn't save Ellis.’
  • 2A bell-shaped object or part of something.

    1. 2.1 The end of a trumpet or other brass instrument.
      ‘the acoustic properties of a trumpet's bell’
      • ‘Researchers in Germany have been looking carefully at the after glow of the big bang and have decided that the universe is shaped like a trumpet bell.’
      • ‘The bell of the trumpet is decorated with a garland bearing the maker's name and the place where the instrument was made.’
      • ‘He made me an unbelievable trumpet with carvings and designs and a big double bell, like a space-age trumpet.’
    2. 2.2Botany The corolla of a bell-shaped flower.
      ‘a flower with small pale blue bells’
      • ‘Flowers are borne on long thin stalks - tiny white bells that do not do any justice to the lovely plant.’
      • ‘The citron yellow or red tinged flowers are also worth having, hanging bells on tall stalks that dance in the wind and give way to upright seed heads for autumn interest.’
      • ‘Salvia confertiflora is a half-hardy salvia with delicate orange bells along its stem.’
      • ‘A few warm days and they will be growing rapidly, the flowers opening to reveal the familiar white bells with their crisp green markings.’
      • ‘Great black bees make their way from the bell of one flower to the petals of the next.’
    3. 2.3Zoology The umbrella of a jellyfish.
      ‘the tiny jellyfish has a bell measuring five to ten millimeters wide’
  • 3bellsA musical instrument consisting of a set of cylindrical metal tubes of different lengths, suspended in a frame and played by being struck with a hammer.

    Also called tubular bells
    • ‘This arrangement demands an extremely colourful orchestra that includes piccolo, four horns, harp, orchestral bells, and tam-tam.’
    • ‘Working with sampled bells, gongs and prepared piano, he then uses electronic equipment to process this first layer and continues to build up his compositions.’
    • ‘The bells in the final movement are much more forward and eerie.’
    • ‘The overture is similar to its more illustrious counterpart from Tchiakovsky and it also has bells in its final moments.’
    • ‘He planted the two harps in front of the orchestra, on either side of his rostrum, and banished bells and drums to the unseen backstage.’
  • 4Nautical
    (preceded by a numeral) the time as indicated every half hour of a watch by the striking of the ship's bell one to eight times.

    ‘at five bells in the forenoon of June 11’
    • ‘Eight bells brought him back from the run before the wind.’
    • ‘The bell tolled the last of eight bells in the afternoon on Dolphin.’
    • ‘Hornblower left the first watch at four bells, entered the cabin, and sat writing in the log by the light of a single candle and the ceiling lantern.’

verb

  • 1with object Provide with a bell or bells; attach a bell or bells to.

    ‘animals in gaudy belled harnesses’
    ‘the young men were belling and hobbling the horses before releasing them’
    • ‘She readjusted her jingling belled hat.’
    • ‘He tilted his head, his belled hat jingling faintly, when the king just sputtered, red-faced, instead of answering his question.’
    • ‘Oh yes, and health inspectors should be belled like lepers.’
    • ‘He paled below his silly, belled jester's hat.’
  • 2no object Make a ringing sound likened to that of a bell.

    ‘the organ belling away’
  • 3no object Spread or flare outward like the lip of a bell.

    ‘her shirt belled out behind’
    • ‘She wore a tight black velvet shirt with a low neck and long sleeves that belled out.’
    • ‘Adjust the expander die to bell the mouth just enough to allow a bullet to start cleanly and case life will be extended considerably.’
    • ‘The top was very tight fitting, with a skirt that belled out at the waist.’
    • ‘There was a lower neck line with blue lace and belled sleeves.’
    • ‘Eventually, it creaked to a juddering, shrieking stop and a huge door, rust-pitted, streaked with red and belled outwards with age ground slowly aside.’
    • ‘The sleeves were belled, and it all sparkled as if enchanted.’
    • ‘His legs donned somewhat baggy khaki pants and a light blue button down shirt that belled out at his wrists.’
    • ‘He was wearing a red V-neck shirt with long sleeves that belled out near the hands, white jeans, and black slip-on shoes with thick white socks.’
    • ‘Reaching over to fix the long, belled sleeves of the dress, Betty smiled warmly.’
    • ‘A maroon, silk ribbon tied right below her elbow where more sheer fabric belled out right above her wrist.’
    • ‘It had a low cut V-neck, and the sleeves belled out into dramatic triangular petals.’
    • ‘Taña paints and teaches the local girls how to bell the bottoms of their pants.’
    • ‘well if not a peasant top has belled sleeves and nothing goes on the shoulders or around the neck.’
    • ‘She looked at it again, it was black and sleek and pretty, and it belled out around her a little above her knees.’
    • ‘Although I couldn't move my head, I knew that the walls of the rift belled out beneath me and narrowed above, forming the tightest part of the rift.’
    • ‘The dress was very elegant with long, belled sleeves and a golden rope for a belt.’
    • ‘Her green dress belled out around her with the speed of his dancing, and she felt like magic…’
    • ‘At the end he found a small slot that belled out above a sandy floor - and an absence of footprints.’
    • ‘It had a low neckline and a skirt that was slightly belled.’
    • ‘The sleeves were long and belled out slightly at the wrists.’

Phrases

  • bell the cat

    • Take the danger of a shared enterprise upon oneself.

      • ‘His government should convince all political parties that it is time to bell the cat to implement the one-child norm for one and all.’
      • ‘The real challenge is deciding whose job it is to bell the cat.’
      • ‘It has become more of a question of who is to bell the cat.’
      • ‘No community is likely to bell the cat by making gratuitous concessions on this issue.’
      • ‘Warner is to be lauded for his courage to bell the cat, albeit at the eleventh hour, and close this unfortunate chapter in the country's footballing history, by replacing St Clair.’
      • ‘Though the industry had been deliberating at length over the crisis for long, they failed to evolve a consensus and ultimately the exhibitors had to step in to bell the cat.’
      • ‘Politicians should be brave enough to bell the cat and join forces to tackle the national task.’
      • ‘But then someone has to bell the cat and the Metro Rail has to become a reality.’
      • ‘But the burning question is: who will bell the cat?’
      • ‘I think the idea of approaching him one on one is good in terms of it being less likely to arouse defensiveness, although that makes one of you guys the person who has to bell the cat.’
  • bells and whistles

    • informal Attractive additional features or trimmings.

      ‘an advocate of more bells and whistles on the income tax code’
      • ‘The whole thing fizzes with furious energy and is more satisfying than plenty of albums with more technical bells and whistles.’
      • ‘They want an integrated system with all the bells and whistles of high-end storage as standard features.’
      • ‘It's got so many bells and whistles, it's taking time for me to get used to using it.’
      • ‘You'd think we'd have learnt how all the bells and whistles on our phones worked after that wouldn't you?’
      • ‘Now most high-end computers cost only two thousand dollars, and these computers have all the bells and whistles.’
      • ‘I'm very suspicious of websites that confront you with bells and whistles and all manner of cunning design.’
      • ‘A young friend of mine got his first autofocus camera the other day - a fairly swish Canon, with quite a few of the bells and whistles.’
      • ‘Cut out all the bells and whistles and stick to simple architecture.’
      • ‘If you can live without the latest bells and whistles, then used equipment may be for you.’
      • ‘It has enough bells and whistles to satiate special effects fans, but not too many to cheapen the overall film.’
  • be saved by the bell

    • 1(in boxing and other sports) avoid being counted out by the ringing of the bell at the end of a round.

      • ‘In the ninth round the champion was saved by the bell.’
      • ‘With 25 seconds to go to the end of the round Cantwell suddenly found himself on his knees only to be saved by the bell on that occasion.’
      • ‘He was saved by the bell in rounds five, six and seven.’
      • ‘He went down two more times in the first round and was saved by the bell.’
      • ‘But Clay was saved by the bell and went on to triumph over Cooper.’
      • ‘He was knocked down twice in the ninth round and was saved by the bell.’
      • ‘He was saved by the bell from a fourth round knock-out.’
      • ‘Willard had been saved by the bell at the count of seven.’
      • ‘The visitor, whose legs were buckled by a left hook to the side of the head, was in fact saved by the bell in the first round.’
      • ‘Thompson felled Sellers twice in their amazing slug-fest, and the Yank was saved by the bell on both occasions.’
      1. 1.1Escape from danger narrowly or by an unexpected intervention.
        • ‘They were saved by the bell when a courtly looking man, most likely a bodyguard, showed up out of nowhere, went up to the podium, and promptly announced that there was a bomb threat on the building.’
        • ‘I had the sense that any moment another question would befall me - but I was saved by the bell.’
        • ‘I was saved by the bell and reached for salvation before anyone else dreamed of moving - they were trying to wake up from their peaceful slumber.’
        • ‘As with most other remarkable escapes, Morgan is saved by the bell.’
  • (as) clear (or sound) as a bell

    • Perfectly clear (or sound)

      ‘Aunt Nora's words came clear as a bell’
      • ‘He said: ‘I still remember the day as clear as a bell.’’
      • ‘The soundtrack is clear of any major hiss or distortion with all aspects of the dialogue, effects, and music clear as a bell.’
      • ‘When I got up the next morning, the dream was still clear as a bell, and it continues to stay with me until this day.’
      • ‘Then Rebecca moved through the audience to sing with a voice as clear as a bell.’
      • ‘‘Hi, this is Roger,’ said my buddy Roger - his voice clear as a bell on the answer phone.’
      • ‘Here I was speaking to a close friend of my uncle's for the first time ever, who although now in his 80s was as clear as a bell in his recounting of the old days.’
      • ‘I can still remember the day she died as clear as a bell.’
      • ‘It switches between being clear as a bell, and being murky and distant.’
      • ‘The presentation here is distortion free and clear as a bell.’
      • ‘‘The pleasure's all mine,’ said the voice, which was rather high but smooth and rang out clear as a bell.’
      distinctly, clearly, as clear as a bell, plainly, audibly, intelligibly, with clarity
      distinct, bell-like, as clear as a bell, clarion, pure
      View synonyms
  • ring a bell

    • Revive a distant recollection; sound familiar.

      ‘the name Woodall rings a bell’
      • ‘The name rang a bell, though she couldn't quite place it.’
      • ‘One of the country's legendary tenor saxophone players, his name might not ring a bell for those who are not in tune with Jazz in India, but he deserves to be remembered.’
      • ‘While her name might not ring a bell, her songs definitely do.’
      • ‘If that name doesn't ring a bell, you're not alone.’
      • ‘The name rings a bell, but I can't put my finger on why.’
      • ‘That girl's name rang a bell, but she couldn't remember where from.’
      • ‘If these names ring a bell and you can supply further information please contact us.’
      • ‘If the name rings a bell, it is because he might have helped you buy a book, film or album.’
      • ‘If Blackwell's name doesn't ring a bell with you, that's understandable.’
      • ‘While her name might not ring a bell in the minds of most people, the festival will screen a ‘snippet’ from her body of work titled ‘Harlequin’.’
  • with bells on

    • informal Enthusiastically.

      ‘everybody's waiting for you with bells on’
      • ‘I mean, even if she didn't feel well, she would be there with bells on.’
      • ‘Bradley said, standing up, ‘I'm waiting with bells on, Mr. Lauderdale, so why don't you hit me?’
      • ‘Just let me know when you're ready, and I'll be there with bells on.’
      • ‘Any sane New York politician who can walk or crawl into the Plaza will be there with bells on, soaking up the good press.’
      • ‘The audience is likely to show up for ‘A Christmas Classique,’ by pianist Lorie Line and her pop chamber orchestra, with bells on.’
      • ‘They're doing it with bells on.’
      • ‘I'll be there with bells on, though that might make us a little conspicuous.’
      • ‘‘I'll be there with bells on,’ Aidan said as he slid out of the car.’
      • ‘Also, he's coming to town, again, on the 13 th, and I will be there with bells on.’
      • ‘I'll be there with bells on, I promise - but what about the game?’

Origin

Old English belle, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch bel, and perhaps to bell.

Pronunciation

bell

/bel//bɛl/

Main definitions of bell in English

: bell1bell2Bell3

bell2

noun

  • The cry of a stag or buck at rutting time.

    • ‘Our guides will have you listen to the bell of the stag at the mating season or observe the animals from watch towers.’
    • ‘We organise evening visits to the animal reserve on these two special weekends to listen to the stag's bell and the clashing of the antlers as the animals fight.’

verb

[NO OBJECT]
  • (of a stag or buck) make a cry at rutting time.

    • ‘Just then a stag belled loudly.’
    • ‘My very earliest memories are of picnics with my mother beneath the great trees in Richmond Park in London, of red deer stags belling in rut, of lightning and thunder.’
    • ‘My very earliest memories include playing beneath the trees and listening to the stags belling in the dusk.’
    • ‘During the rut in October and November you can hear the stags belling or roaring.’
    • ‘The wood in the half-light waking at daybreak to the belling of stags that bursts into barks.’

Origin

Old English bellan ‘to bellow’, of Germanic origin; related to German bellen ‘to bark, bray’, and perhaps also to bell.

Pronunciation

bell

/bel//bɛl/

Main definitions of bell in English

: bell1bell2Bell3

Bell3

proper noun

  • A city in southwestern California, southeast of Los Angeles; population 36,657 (est. 2008)

Pronunciation

Bell

/bɛl/

proper noun

  • Currer, Ellis, and Acton, the pseudonyms used by Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, respectively.