Definitions

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

  • intransitive v. To ring slowly and solemnly, especially for a funeral; toll.
  • intransitive v. To give forth a mournful or ominous sound.
  • transitive v. To signal, summon, or proclaim by tolling.
  • n. The sound of a bell knelling; a toll.
  • n. A signal of disaster or destruction.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to ring a bell slowly, especially for a funeral; to toll.
  • v. to signal or proclaim something by ringing a bell.
  • n. the sound of a bell knelling; a toll.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The stroke of a bell tolled at a funeral or at the death of a person; a death signal; a passing bell
  • intransitive v. To sound as a knell; especially, to toll at a death or funeral; hence, to sound as a warning or evil omen.
  • transitive v. To summon, as by a knell.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To strike; knock.
  • To toll, as a bell; ring for or at a funeral; knoll.
  • To summon by or as if by a knell.
  • To sound, as a bell, especially as a funeral bell.
  • Hence To sound as an omen or a warning of coming evil.
  • n. The sound caused by striking a bell; especially, the sound of a bell rung with solemn slowness at or for a funeral; a passing-bell.

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

  • v. ring as in announcing death
  • v. make (bells) ring, often for the purposes of musical edification
  • n. the sound of a bell rung slowly to announce a death or a funeral or the end of something

Etymologies

Middle English knellen, from Old English cnyllan.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • When they had gone from house to house and collected all the money they could, they laid the wren on a bier and carried it in procession to the parish churchyard, where they made a grave and buried it "with the utmost solemnity, singing dirges over her in the Manks language, which they call her knell; after which Christmas begins."

    The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion

  • When they had gone from house to house and collected all the money they could, they laid the wren on a bier and carried it in procession to the parish churchyard, where they made a grave and buried it “with the utmost solemnity, singing dirges over her in the Manks language, which they call her knell; after which Christmas begins.

    Chapter 54. Types of Animal Sacrament. § 2. Processions with Sacred Animals

  • In another moment it forged slowly past me, tolling as it were a death knell from the engine-bell and associating in my mind spectral tableaux of horrible collisions and mangled dead.

    A Run by Rail from Washington to St. Louis

  • Manks language, which they call her knell; after which Christmas begins. "

    The Golden Bough

  • When they had gone from house to house and collected all the money they could, they laid the wren on a bier and carried it in procession to the parish churchyard, where they made a grave and buried it “with the utmost solemnity, singing dirges over her in the Manks language, which they call her knell; after which

    The Golden Bough : a study of magic and religion

  • -- the slumber which visits her pillow, as she listens to that sad music she called her knell; her awakening from the vision of celestial joy to find herself still on earth --

    Characteristics of Women Moral, Poetical, and Historical

  • a single one if the knell is for man, or two for a woman.

    The Wide, Wide World

  • This is of course connected with "knell," though the only Kneller who has become famous was a German named Kniller.

    The Romance of Names

  • Obama will be signing the death knell of the American Space Program. keny

    Liftoff of Atlantis - NASA Watch

  • BBC World Service cuts: 'This is the death knell' - video

    Letters: Anti-Murdoch hysteria could threaten Sky News

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Comments

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  • (Knell) With this word is depressing now that i know the meaning a sound of a bell that toll one ring for a man and two ring toll for a woman at death

    June 19, 2011

  • Oops! That should be the grassy knoll, of course. But who was that young lady in the Old Curiosity Shop? Wasn't she called little knell?

    OK, I'll stop now, I promise.

    November 8, 2007

  • the knell of parting day? the grassy knell?

    November 8, 2007

  • What other kinds of knell are there apart from the death-knell?

    November 8, 2007