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See more synonyms for belfry on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural bel·fries.
  1. a bell tower, either attached to a church or other building or standing apart.
  2. the part of a steeple or other structure in which a bell is hung.
  3. a frame of timberwork that holds or encloses a bell.
  4. Slang. head; mind: a belfry full of curious notions.
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  1. have bats in one's belfry. bat2(def 3).
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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)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for belfry

Historical Examples

  • Ere Sophie came back to me, there was a bell-stroke from the belfry.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 10, No. 58, August, 1862


  • At that moment eleven o'clock sounded from the belfry of Rocreuse.

  • That is not a belfry: it is a chimney, the bakehouse chimney.

    A Nest of Spies

    Pierre Souvestre

  • 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

  • On examining the belfry, it was discovered that some persons had carried off the clapper of the bell.

British Dictionary definitions for belfry


noun plural -fries
  1. the part of a tower or steeple in which bells are hung
  2. a tower or steepleCompare campanile
  3. the timber framework inside a tower or steeple on which bells are hung
  4. (formerly) a movable tower for attacking fortifications
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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

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.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with belfry


see bats in one's belfry.

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