[bel-ohz, -uh z]

noun (used with a singular or plural verb)

a device for producing a strong current of air, consisting of a chamber that can be expanded to draw in air through a valve and contracted to expel it through a tube.
anything resembling or suggesting bellows in form, as the collapsible part of a camera or enlarger.
the lungs.

Origin of bellows

before 900; Middle English bel(o)wes (plural), Old English belg, short for blǣst belg, plural belgas blast-bag; cognate with Dutch blaasbalg, German Blasebalg, Old Norse belgr. See belly
Related formsbel·lows·like, adjective




George Wesley,1882–1925, U.S. painter and lithographer.



verb (used without object)

to emit a hollow, loud, animal cry, as a bull or cow.
to roar; bawl: bellowing with rage.

verb (used with object)

to utter in a loud deep voice: He bellowed his command across the room.


an act or sound of bellowing.

Origin of bellow

before 1000; Middle English belwen, akin to Old English bylgan to roar (compare for the vowel Old High German bullôn); extended form akin to bell2
Related formsbel·low·er, nounout·bel·low, verb (used with object)

Synonym study

2. See cry. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for bellows

clamor, yelp, wail, roar, bluster, bray, cry, rout, blare, bawl, bay, whoop, shout, call, low, bark, yell, yawp, shriek, scream

Examples from the Web for bellows

Contemporary Examples of bellows

Historical Examples of bellows

British Dictionary definitions for bellows


noun (functioning as singular or plural)

Also called: pair of bellows an instrument consisting of an air chamber with flexible sides or end, a means of compressing it, an inlet valve, and a constricted outlet that is used to create a stream of air, as for producing a draught for a fire or for sounding organ pipes
photog a telescopic light-tight sleeve, connecting the lens system of some cameras to the body of the instrument
a flexible corrugated element used as an expansion joint, pump, or means of transmitting axial motion

Word Origin for bellows

C16: from plural of Old English belig belly



(intr) to make a loud deep raucous cry like that of a bull; roar
to shout (something) unrestrainedly, as in anger or pain; bawl


the characteristic noise of a bull
a loud deep sound, as of pain or anger
Derived Formsbellower, noun

Word Origin for bellow

C14: probably from Old English bylgan; related to bellan to bell ²



Saul . 1915–2005, US novelist, born in Canada. His works include Dangling Man (1944), The Adventures of Angie March (1954), Herzog (1964), Humboldt's Gift (1975), The Dean's December (1981), and Ravelstein (2000): Nobel prize for literature 1976
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 bellows

c.1200, belwes, literally "bags," plural of belu, belw, northern form of beli, from late Old English belg "bag, purse, leathern bottle" (see belly (n.)). Reduced from blæstbælg, literally "blowing bag." Used exclusively in plural since 15c., probably due to the two handles.



apparently from Old English bylgan "to bellow," from PIE root *bhel- (4) "to sound, roar." Originally of animals, especially cows and bulls; used of human beings since c.1600. Related: Bellowed; bellowing. As a noun from 1779.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper