Definition of belly in US English:



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

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Use slow, steady, deep breaths from your belly, not your chest.’
    • ‘She was then tossed across a horse's withers and cried out involuntarily as her belly slammed into the horse's back.’
    • ‘The doctor fearing that Penguin's internal organs had been dangerously damaged, decided to open his belly up to examine his entrails.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Grubby politicians kiss babies; but these two cynical opportunists have chosen to exploit emaciated infants with distended bellies as the visual soundbite for 2005.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Starting in her belly, an animal like grumble worked its way from her gut to her throat.’
    • ‘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.’
    inside, inner part, inner area, depths, recesses, bowels
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 The stomach, especially as representing the body's need for food.
      ‘they'll fight all the better on empty bellies’
      • ‘A promise is neither food in your belly nor actual value in your bank account.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She had a home, plenty of clothes and food in her belly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With a warm belly full of food, the fire was extinguished and we were back on our way, often returning after midnight.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘You have a decent place to live, electricity, food in your belly, clean water to drink, clothes on your back, etc.’
      • ‘Food was scarce, and the infant Ono made up a game of visualising sumptuous feasts to keep their minds off their empty bellies.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Plus, having food in your belly can lower your chances of upset stomach, which vitamins can sometimes cause.’
      • ‘We stood, our bellies content and our bodies consumed with fatigue.’
      • ‘Pride doesn't pay the bills, keep the wolf from the door or put food in bellies.’
      • ‘The next day I finally got food in my belly and I kissed the one that fed me with all my heart’
      • ‘You know that they will come with empty bellies but you have absolutely no clue what to feed these ravenous guests.’
      • ‘It won't put medicine in decrepit hospitals or food in empty bellies.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She claims to know what I need, and perhaps she does, because I need so little - the sun to rise; food in my belly.’
      stomach, abdomen, paunch, middle, midriff, girth
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 The underside of a bird or other animal.
      • ‘The Silver-eyes, like the ones I saw in Australia, have gray backs and gray bellies.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Laying on their bellies, horses concealed by brush, James, Adam and Hoss waited, scarcely breathing.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They are light underneath, with finely streaked chests and bellies.’
      • ‘Rather than flapping the wings from back to belly, as other birds do, the partridges flap from head to tail.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The animal rolled onto his belly and slowly sat up from the position.’
      • ‘With quickness and agility, the boy went under the belly of the horse, dodging big hooves and the swishing head of the beast.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘His belly and flanks are white, and his rump is black.’
      • ‘Our bird had a brown belly, however, and I turned the page to Common Yellowthroat.’
      • ‘Not only were these people swimming with about two dozen manatees, but they were also rubbing the manatees' bellies and backs.’
      • ‘The blinded Cyclops at the cave exit feels the emerging animals, under whose bellies Odysseus and his followers are clinging.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 1.3 A cut of pork from the underside between the legs.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Divide pork belly and sauce evenly between four vacuum-packed bags.’
      • ‘Reheat pork belly in simmering water for ten minutes and cut open bag.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Octopus and squid ceviche, salt cod croquettes and pot-roast belly pork and cheeks were all good enough to go back for.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The meat was apparently very tasty, but very fatty, which one would expect belly pork to be.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The food is both inventive and hearty - braised belly pork with black pudding, anyone?’
      • ‘Arrange the cut fillet around the pork belly and drizzle with the sauce.’
      • ‘Swap the chicken for a slab of belly pork, again shredding the meltingly tender meat back into the rice to serve.’
      • ‘They contain lots of seasonings, and the ingredients are mostly high in saturated fat, for example, pork belly, fatty meat or instant noodles.’
    4. 1.4 A pig's belly as food, especially as a traded commodity.
      • ‘After all, pork bellies are a commodity, and they make the Farm Report every day.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Her husband, Harvey, is a commodity broker, but he would sooner die, she insists on his behalf, than trade pork bellies.’
      • ‘It could be tied to commodities like a bushel of wheat, or a pork belly.’
      • ‘You can buy pork bellies the same way you buy stocks.’
      • ‘The owners treated their serfs as if they were a commodity like pork bellies.’
    5. 1.5 The rounded underside of a ship or aircraft.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But, before we can fully digest our thoughts, a man pushes us down a set of stairs into the belly of the ship.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘They continued walking, taking every ramp they could find that might take them further into the belly of the ship.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The belly of the ship rumbled as the Interstellar Drive Unit ignited.’
      • ‘And so it was that the missile, diving like a kingfisher, struck the ship in the belly.’
      • ‘NASA is studying videotape that shows a piece of tile falling off the shuttle's belly during this morning's launch.’
      • ‘From deep within the belly of the ship, a low whirring sound began, steadily gaining pitch and velocity.’
      • ‘Bull came up from the belly of the ship and stood on the deck.’
      • ‘On the other hand, the airframe damage to the aircraft belly was considerable.’
      • ‘The prisoners milled around the belly of the ship as they tried to find a place to call home.’
      • ‘Planes also have two red rotating beacons - one on the roof and one on the belly of the aircraft.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Astronauts will try to pull out or cut off two fabric strips that are sticking out from the belly of the shuttle.’
      undercarriage, underbelly, underside, undersurface, underneath, underpart, lower side, bottom
      View synonyms
    6. 1.6 The top surface of an instrument of the violin family, across 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 sweater 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.’
    • ‘And the sails were bellied out by the wind, and far from the coast were they joyfully borne past the Posideian headland.’
    • ‘After the balloon bellied out into full form, its five passengers climbed into the basket.’
    • ‘As the sail unfurled and bellied out in the wind, it blocked the ferryman's view of the island.’
    billow, billow out, bulge, bulge out, swell, swell out, balloon, balloon out, bag, bag out, 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’
    • ‘Cowboys belly up to the bar, drinking the local brew.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But I was glad to belly up to the bar and to pay my money to connect with real people with real passion.’
    • ‘When it comes time to make a deal, we know how to get them to belly up to the bar.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘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.’
    • ‘So, all of you, sing a happy, lusty rendition of Happy Birthday for me and then belly up to the bar!’
    • ‘The two men looked at us as we bellied up to the bar.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Soon a small posse of men in black roll into town in big dark luxury car and belly up to the diner counter.’
    • ‘But not everyone enjoys the opportunity to belly up, regardless of what's offered.’
    • ‘I bellied up to a flimsy, portable bar that had been set up for the occasion.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘So, on went the leash and Cinnamon bellied up to the bar.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’


  • go belly up

    • informal Go bankrupt.

      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He estimates that his fledgling label lost $400,000 when the Chicago-based distributor went belly up.’
      • ‘Origami Bank has folded, Sumo Bank has gone belly up and Bonsai Bank plans to cut back some of its branches.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘We nearly went belly up in 1998,’ Honda-san said.’
      • ‘Instead, in 1997 came this stunner: Yamaichi went belly up.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Art, good or bad, is always on the point of going belly up.’
      • ‘But if a company rep sells something which subsequently goes belly up, then the company itself is liable.’
      • ‘Wang eventually went belly up, but the pain of that period, particularly the sackings, still haunts him, he says.’
      • ‘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).’
      • ‘Actually, he thinks that if his career ever went belly up, he'd open an American-style diner somewhere between Glasgow and Oban.’
      • ‘The worst that can happen is that your company goes belly up, and this is particularly pertinent when it comes to with-profits investments.’
      • ‘It's going to cost too much, the industry will go belly up!’


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