American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A large vessel for underwater work, open on the bottom and supplied with air under pressure.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A mechanical contrivance consisting essentially of an inverted cup-shaped or bell-shaped chamber filled with air, in which persons are lowered beneath the surface of the water to perform various operations, such as examining the foundations of bridges, blasting rocks, recovering treasure from sunken vessels, etc. Diving-bells have been made of various forms, such as that of a bell, or a hollow truncated cone or pyramid, with the smaller end closed and the larger one, which is placed lowermost, open. The air contained within the bell prevents it from being filled with water on submersion, so that the diver may descend in it and breathe freely, provided he is furnished with a new supply of fresh air as fast as the contained air becomes vitiated by respiration. The diving-bell is now generally made of cast-iron in the form of an oblong chest (A), open at the bottom, and with several strong convex lenses set in its upper side or roof, to admit light to the interior. It is suspended by chains from a barge or other suitable vessel, and can be raised or lowered at pleasure, in accordance with signals given by the persons within, who are supplied with fresh air injected into a flexible pipe by means of a forcing-pump (B) placed in the vessel, while the vitiated air escapes by a cock in the upper part of the bell. An improvement on this form, called the nautilus, enables the occupant, instead of depending upon the attendants above, as in the older forms, to raise or sink the bell, move it about at pleasure, or raise great weights with it and deposit them in any desired spot.
- n. An airtight chamber, open at the bottom, that is lowered on a cable underwater to operate as a base or a means of transport for a diver or a small number of divers.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. a hollow inverted vessel, sometimes bell-shaped, in which men may descend and work under water, respiration being sustained by the compressed air at the top, by fresh air pumped in through a tube from above.
- n. diving apparatus for underwater work; has an open bottom and is supplied with compressed air
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