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

  • noun The bellowing or baying cry of certain animals, such as a deer in rut or a beagle on the hunt.
  • intransitive verb To utter long, deep, resonant sounds; bellow.
  • noun A hollow metal musical instrument, usually cup-shaped with a flared opening, that emits a metallic tone when struck.
  • noun Something resembling such an instrument in shape or sound, as.
  • noun The round, flared opening of a wind instrument at the opposite end from the mouthpiece.
  • noun A percussion instrument consisting of metal tubes or bars that emit tones when struck.
  • noun A hollow, usually inverted vessel, such as one used for diving deep below the surface of a body of water.
  • noun The corolla of a flower.
  • noun The body of a jellyfish.
  • noun A stroke on a hollow metal instrument to mark the hour.
  • noun The time indicated by the striking of this instrument, divided into half hours.
  • intransitive verb To put a bell on.
  • intransitive verb To cause to flare like a bell.
  • intransitive verb To assume the form of a bell; flare.
  • idiom (bell the cat) To perform a daring act.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The bellow of the wild deer in rutting-time.
  • To bubble.
  • To produce bells; be in bell: said of hops when the seed-vessels are forming. See bell, n., 2 .
  • To put a bell on.
  • To swell or puff out into the shape of a bell.
  • noun A bubble formed in a liquid.
  • To bellow; roar.
  • Specifically To bellow like a deer in rutting-time.
  • To bellow forth.
  • Fair; beautiful.
  • noun A bell-shaped rock-mass of somewhat doubtful origin occurring occasionally in sedimentary rocks. The inverted position of of these masses leads to the theory that they were the result of some local disturbance of sedimentation. Some may be due to contemporaneous erosion.
  • noun A hollow metallic instrument which gives forth a ringing sound, generally of a musical quality, when struck with a clapper, hammer, or other appliance.
  • noun Anything in the form of a bell or compared to a bell.
  • noun In architecture, the plain echinus of a Corinthian or composite capital, around which the foliage and volutes are arranged. Also called basket.
  • noun The large end of a funnel, or the end of a pipe, tube, or any musical instrument, when its edge is turned out and enlarged so as to resemble a bell.
  • noun The strobile, cone, or catkin containing the seed of the hop.
  • noun The pendulous dermal appendage under the throat of the male moose.
  • noun In hydroid polyps, the umbrella or gelatinous disk.
  • noun plural A number of small bells in the form of hawks' bells or sleigh-bells, fastened to a handle and constituting a toy for amusing an infant.
  • noun pl. Naut., the term employed on shipboard, as o'clock is on shore, to denote the divisions of daily time, from their being marked by bells, which are struck every half-hour.
  • noun in the Roman Catholic Church, a bell which has received the solemn blessing of the church, in which the bishop prays that its sound may avail to summon the faithful, to excite their devotion, to drive away storms, and that the powers of the air, hearing it, may tremble and flee before the standard of the holy cross of the Son of God engraved upon it, etc.
  • noun In seed, or having the seed-capsules formed, as hops.
  • To swell up, like a boil or beal.

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

  • transitive verb obsolete To utter by bellowing.
  • transitive verb To put a bell upon.
  • transitive verb To make bell-mouthed.
  • intransitive verb To call or bellow, as the deer in rutting time; to make a bellowing sound; to roar.
  • intransitive verb To develop bells or corollas; to take the form of a bell; to blossom.
  • noun A hollow metallic vessel, usually shaped somewhat like a cup with a flaring mouth, containing a clapper or tongue, and giving forth a ringing sound on being struck.
  • noun the famous bell of the Philadelphia State House, which rang when the Continental Congress declared the Independence of the United States, in 1776. It had been cast in 1753, and upon it were the words “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, to all the inhabitants thereof.”
  • noun A hollow perforated sphere of metal containing a loose ball which causes it to sound when moved.
  • noun Anything in the form of a bell, as the cup or corol of a flower.
  • noun (Arch.) That part of the capital of a column included between the abacus and neck molding; also used for the naked core of nearly cylindrical shape, assumed to exist within the leafage of a capital.


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

[From Middle English bellen, to bellow, from Old English bellan.]

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

[Middle English belle, from Old English.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Old English bellan. Cognate with German bellen ("to bark").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old English belle, from Proto-Germanic *bellōn. Cognate with Dutch bel.


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  • On ships at sea, each watch (which lasted 4 hours) is divided into 8 bells; thus, one bell equals 30 minutes. Every 30 minutes, the ship's bell sounds the number of bells elapsed since the start of the watch.

    November 7, 2007

  • A breastplate (ornamental) knot.

    January 9, 2008

  • To bell someone - UK - to call them on the phone. Citation on henry.

    April 16, 2009

  • Oh, c'mon yarbster, who are you kidding? If it were that easy to bell the cat, all the mousies would have cell phones by now.

    mousie cell phone

    Then again, maybe not.

    April 16, 2009

  • In Dutch, bellen is to phone someone.

    In German, bellen is to bark (the sound dogs make).

    One of the many mistakes many Dutch people make when trying to speak German: Ich belle dir! I bark you!

    April 23, 2009

  • "Does that ring a bell?" means "cause you to remember something" and is probably the translation of German Glock ringen, a transliteration pun on Latin recollectare = to remember.

    June 16, 2009

  • See Pavlov.

    August 31, 2010