from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A bell tower, especially one attached to a building.
  • noun The part of a tower or steeple in which bells are hung.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A movable wooden tower used in the middle ages in attacking fortified places.
  • noun A stationary tower near a fortified place, in which were stationed sentinels to watch the surrounding country and give notice of the approach of an enemy.
  • noun A bell-tower, generally attached to a church or other building, but sometimes standing apart as an independent structure.
  • noun That part of a steeple or other structure in which a bell is hung; particularly, the frame of timberwork which sustains the bell. See cut under bell-gable.
  • noun Nautical, the ornamental frame in which the ship's bell is hung.
  • noun A shed used as a shelter for cattle or for farm implements or produce.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Mil. Antiq.) A movable tower erected by besiegers for purposes of attack and defense.
  • noun A bell tower, usually attached to a church or other building, but sometimes separate; a campanile.
  • noun A room in a tower in which a bell is or may be hung; or a cupola or turret for the same purpose.
  • noun (Naut.) The framing on which a bell is suspended.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun obsolete A moveable tower used in sieges.
  • noun dialectal A shed.
  • noun obsolete An alarm-tower; a watchtower containing an alarm-bell.
  • noun architecture A tower or steeple specifically for containing bells, especially as part of a church.
  • noun architecture A part of a large tower or steeple, specifically for containing bells.

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

  • noun a room (often at the top of a tower) where bells are hung
  • noun a bell tower; usually stands alone unattached to a building


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

[Middle English belfrei, from Old North French belfroi, alteration of Old French berfrei, berfroi; see bhergh- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French berfrey (changed to have an l by association with bell), from Middle High German bërcvrit / bërvrit , possibly from late Latin berefredus, borrowed from Germanic *bergfrid.


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  • In castles, a siege tower; wooden tower mounted on wheels or rollers, often covered with wet hides as protection against fire. Many had drop-bridges at the top so that attackers could fight their way across onto the castle towers or wall walks.

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