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90s Slang You Should Know


[bel-free] /ˈbɛl fri/
noun, plural belfries.
a bell tower, either attached to a church or other building or standing apart.
the part of a steeple or other structure in which a bell is hung.
a frame of timberwork that holds or encloses a bell.
Slang. head; mind:
a belfry full of curious notions.
have bats in one's belfry. bat2 (def 3).
Origin of belfry
1225-75; Middle English belfray, apparently blend of earlier berfray (< Middle French < Germanic) and Medieval Latin belfredus, dissimilated variant of berefredus < Germanic; compare Middle High German ber(c) frit, equivalent to berc defense, protection, refuge (cognate with Old English gebeorg; see harbor) + frit peace, (place of) safety (cognate with Old English frith) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for belfry
Historical Examples
  • There was a door open into the belfry, and as nobody was about, we never thought it would be any harm to have a ring up.

    Parkhurst Boys Talbot Baines Reed
  • One would have said that there was no longer a musician in the belfry.

    Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo
  • This is the belfry that has looked down on the red roofs of Ghent for nearly six hundred years.

    The Spell of Flanders Edward Neville Vose
  • She knew where the rope hung which pulled the bell in the belfry.

    Stories of Animal Sagacity W.H.G. Kingston
  • Leaving their lanterns and instruments in the belfry they retraced their steps along the waterside track.

  • Those in front also saw and bombarded the belfry with shot and pistol ball.

    The Bishop of Cottontown John Trotwood Moore
  • At length he heard himself, and, glancing at the belfry, smiled a little.

    Padre Ignacio Owen Wister
  • At that moment eleven o'clock sounded from the belfry of Rocreuse.

  • On August 23, 1853, thunder burst over the belfry of Maison-Ponthieu.

    Thunder and Lightning Camille Flammarion
  • Jarvis wouldn't say that; but he didn't deny that there might have been a few cobwebs in the belfry.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
British Dictionary definitions for belfry


noun (pl) -fries
the part of a tower or steeple in which bells are hung
a tower or steeple Compare campanile
the timber framework inside a tower or steeple on which bells are hung
(formerly) a movable tower for attacking fortifications
Word Origin
C13: from Old French berfrei, of Germanic origin; compare Middle High German bercfrit fortified tower, Medieval Latin berfredus tower
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for belfry

c.1400, "siege tower" (late 13c. in Anglo-Latin with a sense "bell tower"), from Old North French berfroi "movable siege tower" (Modern French beffroi), from Middle High German bercfrit "protecting shelter," literally "that which watches over peace," from bergen "to protect" (see bury) + frid "peace." Originally a wooden siege tower on wheels ("free" to move); it came to be used for chime towers (mid-15c.), which at first often were detached from church buildings (as the Campanile on Plaza San Marco in Venice). Spelling altered by dissimilation or by association with bell (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for belfry


The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with belfry


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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