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belly

[bel-ee] /ˈbɛl i/
noun, plural bellies.
1.
the front or under part of a vertebrate body from the breastbone to the pelvis, containing the abdominal viscera; the abdomen.
2.
the stomach with its adjuncts.
3.
appetite or capacity for food; gluttony.
4.
the womb.
5.
the inside or interior of anything:
the belly of a ship.
6.
a protuberant or bulging surface of anything:
the belly of a flask.
7.
Anatomy. the fleshy part of a muscle.
8.
the front, inner, or under surface or part, as distinguished from the back.
9.
the front surface of a violin or similar instrument.
10.
a bulge on a vertical surface of fresh concrete.
11.
the underpart of the fuselage of an airplane.
verb (used with object), bellied, bellying.
12.
to fill out; swell:
Wind bellied the sails.
verb (used without object), bellied, bellying.
13.
to swell out:
Sails bellying in the wind.
14.
to crawl on one's belly:
soldiers bellying through a rice paddy.
Verb phrases
15.
belly up, Informal.
  1. to approach closely, especially until one is in physical contact:
    to belly up to a bar.
  2. to curry favor from:
    Would you have gotten the promotion if you hadn't bellied up to the boss?
Idioms
16.
go / turn belly up, Informal. to come to an end; die; fail:
After years of barely surviving on donations, the neighborhood social club finally went belly up.
Origin of belly
950
before 950; Middle English bely, Old English belig, belg bag, skin; cognate with German Balg, Gothic balgs, Old Norse belgr sack; akin to Welsh bol(a), boly, Irish bolg sack, belly, bellows, Serbo-Croatian blàzina, Latvian pabàlsts, Avestan barəziš-, Persian bālish cushion
Related forms
bellylike, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for bellies
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It isn't gowns that lovers love, but what bellies out the gowns.

    The Dramatic Values in Plautus Wilton Wallace Blancke
  • All other means have been tried, short of crawling on our bellies to these Dutch hinds!

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • What would all you parsons do to clothe your backs and feed your bellies?

    Joseph Andrews, Vol. 2 Henry Fielding
  • Why, she asked, were men given brains if they made gods of their bellies?

    The Education of Eric Lane Stephen McKenna
  • They wait in the stables, and sit along the racks and under the horses' bellies.

    The Stark Munro Letters J. Stark Munro
  • Fine ladies, fresh ladies, and bellies as big as bishops—Mack-er-el!'

    The Manxman Hall Caine
  • Only gratify their bellies in the matter of appetite, and you will succeed in winning much from them.

    The Economist Xenophon
British Dictionary definitions for bellies

belly

/ˈbɛlɪ/
noun (pl) -lies
1.
the lower or front part of the body of a vertebrate, containing the intestines and other abdominal organs; abdomen related adjective ventral
2.
the stomach, esp when regarded as the seat of gluttony
3.
a part, line, or structure that bulges deeply: the belly of a sail
4.
the inside or interior cavity of something: the belly of a ship
5.
the front or inner part or underside of something
6.
the surface of a stringed musical instrument over which the strings are stretched
7.
the thick central part of certain muscles
8.
(Austral & NZ) the wool from a sheep's belly
9.
(tanning) the portion of a hide or skin on the underpart of an animal
10.
(archery) the surface of the bow next to the bowstring
11.
(archaic) the womb
12.
(informal) go belly up, to die, fail, or come to an end
verb -lies, -lying, -lied
13.
to swell out or cause to swell out; bulge
Word Origin
Old English belig; related to Old High German balg, Old Irish bolg sack, Sanskrit barhi chaff
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 bellies

belly

v.

"to swell out," 1620s, from belly (n.). Related: Bellied; bellying. Old English belgan meant "to be or become angry" (a figurative sense). A comparable Greek verb-from-noun, gastrizein, meant "to hit (someone) in the belly."

belly

n.

Old English belg, bylg (West Saxon), bælg (Anglian) "leather bag, purse, bellows," from Proto-Germanic *balgiz "bag" (cf. Old Norse belgr "bag, bellows," bylgja "billow," Gothic balgs "wineskin"), from PIE *bholgh-, from root *bhelgh- "to swell," an extension of *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (see bole). Meaning shifted to "body" (late 13c.), then focused to "abdomen" (mid-14c.). Meaning "bulging part or concave surface of anything" is 1590s. The West Germanic root had a figurative or extended sense of "anger, arrogance" (cf. Old English bolgenmod "enraged;" belgan (v.) "to become angry").

Indo-European languages commonly use the same word for both the external belly and the internal (stomach, womb, etc.), but the distinction of external and internal is somewhat present in English belly/stomach; Greek gastr- (see gastric) in classical language denoted the paunch or belly, while modern science uses it only in reference to the stomach as an organ. Fastidious avoidance of belly in speech and writing (compensated for by stretching the senses of imported stomach and abdomen, baby-talk tummy and misappropriated midriff) began late 18c. and the word was banished from Bibles in many early 19c. editions. Belly punch (n.) is attested from 1811.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bellies in Medicine

belly bel·ly (běl'ē)
n.

  1. See abdomen.

  2. The stomach.

  3. The womb; the uterus.

  4. The bulging, central part of a muscle. Also called venter.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Slang definitions & phrases for bellies
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 bellies

belly

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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9
12
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