Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To be proper, appropriate, or suitable: A napkin belongs at every place setting.
  • intransitive v. To be in an appropriate situation or environment: That plant belongs outdoors.
  • intransitive v. To be a member of a group, such as a club.
  • intransitive v. To fit into a group naturally: No matter what I did, I just didn't belong.
  • intransitive v. To have in one's possession. Often used with to: "The earth belongs to the living” ( Thomas Jefferson).
  • intransitive v. To be a part of something else: These blades belong to the food processor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • prep. Of, belonging to.
  • v. To have its proper place.
  • v. (of a person) To be accepted in a group.
  • v. (followed by to) To be a part of a group.
  • v. (followed by to) To be the property of.
  • v. (followed by to) To be the spouse or partner of.
  • v. (followed by to) To be an element of (a set). The symbol means belongs to.
  • v. To be deserved by.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To be the property of.
  • intransitive v. To be a part of, or connected with; to be appendant or related; to owe allegiance or service.
  • intransitive v. To be the concern or proper business or function of; to appertain to.
  • intransitive v. To be suitable for; to be due to.
  • intransitive v. To be native to, or an inhabitant of; esp. to have a legal residence, settlement, or inhabitancy, whether by birth or operation of law, so as to be entitled to maintenance by the parish or town.
  • transitive v. To be deserved by.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To go along with anything, or accompany it as an adjunct or attribute; pertain; appertain; be a property (of); be in the power or at the disposal (of).
  • To be the concern or proper business (of); appertain (to): as, it belongs to John Doe to prove the title.
  • To be appendant (to); be connected (with); be a special relation (to): as, a beam or rafter belongs to such a frame, or to such a place in the building.
  • To be suitable; be due.
  • To have a settled residence (in); be domiciled (in); specifically, have a legal residence, settlement, or inhabitancy (in), whether by birth or operation of law, so as to be chargeable upon the parish or town: said of a pauper, or one likely to become such.
  • To be a native (of); have original residence (in).
  • To have its (or one's) proper place; be resident: as, this book belongs on the top shelf; I belong here (in this house or town).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. be a part or adjunct
  • v. be suitable or acceptable
  • v. be owned by; be in the possession of
  • v. be in the right place or situation
  • v. be a member, adherent, inhabitant, etc. (of a group, organization, or place)
  • v. be rightly classified in a class or category

Etymologies

Middle English bilongen : probably bi-, be- + longen, to belong (probably from long, dependent, from Old English gelang, along, depending; see del-1 in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English belongen, from be- +‎ longen (“to belong”), from Old English langian ("to pertain to, suit"). Compare Dutch belangen ("to concern"), German belangen ("to attain, concern"). More at be-, long. (Wiktionary)
Compare Kriol blanga, Bislama blong, Tok Pisin bilong, and Torres Strait Creole blong. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • A little mountain spring I found
    That fell into a pool;
    I made my hands into a cup
    And caught the sparkling water up -
    It tasted fresh and cool.
    A solemn little frog I spied
    Upon the rocky brim;
    He looked so boldly in my face,
    I'm certain that he thought the place
    Belonged by rights to him.

    - Rose Fyleman, 'The Spring'.

    November 8, 2008