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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A percussive instrument made of metal or other hard material, typically but not always in the shape of an inverted cup with a flared rim, which resonates when struck.
  • n. The sounding of a bell as a signal.
  • n. A telephone call.
  • n. A signal at a school that tells the students when it's time to change classes during the day.
  • n. The flared end of a brass or woodwind instrument.
  • n. Any of a series of strokes on a bell (or similar), struck every half hour to indicate the time (within a four hour watch)
  • n. The flared end of a pipe, designed to mate with a narrow spigot.
  • v. To attach a bell to.
  • v. To shape so that flares out like a bell.
  • v. To telephone.
  • v. To bellow or roar.
  • n. The bellow or bay of certain animals, such as a hound on the hunt or a stag in rut.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.
  • n. A hollow perforated sphere of metal containing a loose ball which causes it to sound when moved.
  • n. Anything in the form of a bell, as the cup or corol of a flower.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The strikes of the bell which mark the time; or the time so designated.
  • intransitive v. To develop bells or corollas; to take the form of a bell; to blossom.
  • intransitive v. To call or bellow, as the deer in rutting time; to make a bellowing sound; to roar.
  • transitive v. To put a bell upon.
  • transitive v. To make bell-mouthed.
  • transitive v. To utter by bellowing.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • To bellow; roar.
  • Specifically To bellow like a deer in rutting-time.
  • To bellow forth.
  • To swell up, like a boil or beal.
  • To bubble.
  • Fair; beautiful.
  • n. A hollow metallic instrument which gives forth a ringing sound, generally of a musical quality, when struck with a clapper, hammer, or other appliance.
  • n. Anything in the form of a bell or compared to a bell.
  • n. In architecture, the plain echinus of a Corinthian or composite capital, around which the foliage and volutes are arranged. Also called basket.
  • n. 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.
  • n. The strobile, cone, or catkin containing the seed of the hop.
  • n. The pendulous dermal appendage under the throat of the male moose.
  • n. In hydroid polyps, the umbrella or gelatinous disk.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. 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.
  • n. In seed, or having the seed-capsules formed, as hops.
  • n. The bellow of the wild deer in rutting-time.
  • n. A bubble formed in a liquid.
  • n.
  • n. 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.

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

  • n. the sound of a bell being struck
  • n. the shape of a bell
  • n. a phonetician and father of Alexander Graham Bell (1819-1905)
  • n. a hollow device made of metal that makes a ringing sound when struck
  • n. the flared opening of a tubular device
  • n. English painter; sister of Virginia Woolf; prominent member of the Bloomsbury Group (1879-1961)
  • n. United States inventor (born in Scotland) of the telephone (1847-1922)
  • n. (nautical) each of the eight half-hour units of nautical time signaled by strokes of a ship's bell; eight bells signals 4:00, 8:00, or 12:00 o'clock, either a.m. or p.m.
  • n. a push button at an outer door that gives a ringing or buzzing signal when pushed
  • n. a percussion instrument consisting of a set of tuned bells that are struck with a hammer; used as an orchestral instrument
  • v. attach a bell to


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

Middle English belle, from Old English.
From Middle English bellen, to bellow, from Old English bellan.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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



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  • See Pavlov.

    August 31, 2010

  • "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

  • 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

  • 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

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

    April 16, 2009

  • A breastplate (ornamental) knot.

    January 9, 2008

  • 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