- the sound made by a bell rung slowly, especially for a death or a funeral.
- a sound or sign announcing the death of a person or the end, extinction, failure, etc., of something: the knell of parting day.
- any mournful sound.
- to sound, as a bell, especially a funeral bell.
- to give forth a mournful, ominous, or warning sound.
- to proclaim or summon by, or as if by, a bell.
Origin of knell
Examples from the Web for knell
The signs, which certainly did look like signs of guilt, struck a knell on the heart of his father.The Channings
Mrs. Henry Wood
Still that word, which rang like a knell in his dazed brain!The Fortune of the Rougons
It sounded the knell of all hope of redress of their wrongs.Scaramouche
How often does the knell of vanished power repeat the lesson!
The dead I knell, the living wake, And the power of lightning break!Memoirs
Charles Godfrey Leland
- the sound of a bell rung to announce a death or a funeral
- something that precipitates or indicates death or destruction
- (intr) to ring a knell
- (tr) to proclaim or announce by or as if by a tolling bell
Word Origin and History for knell
Old English cnyll "sound made by a bell when struck or rung slowly," perhaps of imitative origin. The Welsh cnull "death-bell" appears to be a borrowing from English. For vowel evolution, see bury.
Old English cnyllan "to toll a bell; strike, knock," cognate with Middle High German erknellen "to resound," Old Norse knylla "to beat, thrash;" probably imitative. Related: Knelled; knelling.
Idioms and Phrases with knell
see death knell.