[ bel ]
/ bɛl /
Save This Word!

verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
to take or have the form of a bell.
Botany. to produce bells; be in bell (said of hops when the seed vessels are forming).


Have You Used The Phrase "Get Your Goat" In This Way?

This family recounts how the phrase "get your goat" inspired them to create a new saying. Have you used this phrase before? Has your family ever created your own word?

Smoothly step over to these common grammar mistakes that trip many people up. Good luck!
Question 1 of 7
Fill in the blank: I can’t figure out _____ gave me this gift.

Idioms about bell

Origin of bell

First recorded before 1000; Middle English, Old English belle; cognate with Dutch bel; derivative of bell2


bell-less, adjective

Other definitions for bell (2 of 3)

[ bel ]
/ bɛl /

verb (used with or without object)
to bellow like a stag in rutting time.
to bay, as a hunting dog.
the cry of a rutting stag or hunting dog.

Origin of bell

First recorded before 1000; Middle English bellen, Old English bellan “to roar”; cognate with Old High German bellan, German bellen “to bark,” Middle Dutch bellen, belen, Old Norse belja; see bellow, belch

Other definitions for bell (3 of 3)

[ bel ]
/ bɛl /

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is a basic definition of bell?

A bell is a hollow instrument, usually resembling a hollow cup with a flaring mouth and made out of metal. Bell is also the sound that this object makes. Bell can also refer to something shaped like a bell. Bell has several other uses as a noun and verb.

Bells are common objects used to make sounds, usually to alert people to something. Bells come in many sizes and can make sounds that range from pleasant to shrill. Bells make noise either by being struck on the outside or by having something on the inside that strikes the inner surfaces.

Real-life examples: Churches often use bells to indicate the current hour or that a religious service has started or ended. Schools use bells to alert students that a class has begun or ended. Jingle bells are often seen and heard during the winter holiday season. The Liberty Bell is a large bell that is considered a national symbol of the United States.

Used in a sentence: The ringing of church bells could be heard all over town. 

Bell also refers to the distinctive sound that bells make. The sound is most often described as a “ringing” or “jingling” sound.

Used in a sentence: The soldiers got out of bed at the bell. 

A bell’s shape is often used as a point of reference.

Real-life examples: A line on a chart that goes up, levels off, and goes down again in a symmetrical pattern is often described as bell-shaped or as a bell curve. The chrysaora jellyfish is shaped like a bell. A bell pepper is a sweet pepper shaped like a bell. Anything shaped like a bell might be called bell-shaped.

Used in a sentence: The children were amazed by the bell-shaped body of the giant jellyfish.

Where does bell come from?

The first records of bell come from before the year 1000. It comes from the Old English word belle.

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms related to bell?

  • bell-less (adjective)

What are some synonyms for bell?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bell

What are some words that often get used in discussing bell?

How is bell used in real life?

Bell is a common word that most often refers to a hollow instrument used to make sound.



Try using bell!

Is bell used correctly in the following sentence?

The line graph showed a bell shape, with a straight line from left to right.

How to use bell in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bell (1 of 3)

/ (bɛl) /


Word Origin for bell

Old English belle; related to Old Norse bjalla, Middle Low German bell; see bell ²

British Dictionary definitions for bell (2 of 3)

/ (bɛl) /

a bellowing or baying cry, esp that of a hound or a male deer in rut
to utter (such a cry)

Word Origin for bell

Old English bellan; related to Old Norse belja to bellow, Old High German bellan to roar, Sanskrit bhāsate he talks; see bellow

British Dictionary definitions for bell (3 of 3)

/ (bɛl) /

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

Scientific definitions for bell

[ bĕl ]
Alexander Graham 1847-1922

Scottish-born American scientist and inventor whose lifelong interest in the education of deaf people led him to conceive the idea of transmitting speech by electric waves. In 1876 his experiments with a telegraph resulted in his invention of the telephone. He later produced the first successful sound recorder, an early hearing aid, and many other devices.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Other Idioms and Phrases with bell


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