verb (used with object)


    below the belt, not in accord with the principles of fairness, decency, or good sportsmanship: criticism that hit below the belt.
    tighten one's belt,
    1. to undergo hardship patiently.
    2. to curtail one's expenditures; be more frugal: They were urged to tighten their belts for the war effort.
    under one's belt, Informal.
    1. in one's stomach, as food or drink: With a few Scotches under his belt, he's everyone's friend.
    2. considered as a matter of successful past experience: I don't think our lawyer has enough similar cases under his belt.

Origin of belt

before 1000; Middle English; Old English; compare Old High German balz; both < Latin balteus; see balteus
Related formsbelt·less, adjective

Synonyms for belt

12. girdle, encircle. 14. gird (on). 15. flog, lash.

Synonym study

3. Belt and zone agree in their original meaning of a girdle or band. Belt is more used in popular or journalistic writing: the corn or wheat belt. Zone tends to be used in technical language: the Torrid Zone; a parcel-post zone. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for below the belt



a band of cloth, leather, etc, worn, usually around the waist, to support clothing, carry tools, weapons, or ammunition, or as decoration
a narrow band, circle, or stripe, as of colour
an area, esp an elongated one, where a specific thing or specific conditions are found; zonethe town belt; a belt of high pressure
a belt worn as a symbol of rank (as by a knight or an earl), or awarded as a prize (as in boxing or wrestling), or to mark particular expertise (as in judo or karate)
a band of flexible material between rotating shafts or pulleys to transfer motion or transmit goodsa fan belt; a conveyer belt
a beltcourseSee cordon (def. 4)
informal a sharp blow, as with a bat or the fist
below the belt
  1. boxingbelow the waist, esp in the groin
  2. informalin an unscrupulous or cowardly way
tighten one's belt to take measures to reduce expenditure
under one's belt
  1. (of food or drink) in one's stomach
  2. in one's possession
  3. as part of one's experiencehe had a linguistics degree under his belt


(tr) to fasten or attach with or as if with a belt
(tr) to hit with a belt
(tr) slang to give a sharp blow; punch
(intr often foll by along) slang to move very fast, esp in a carbelting down the motorway
(tr) rare to mark with belts, as of colour
(tr) rare to encircle; surround
See also belt out, belt up
Derived Formsbelted, noun

Word Origin for belt

Old English, from Latin balteus
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 below the belt



early 14c., "to fasten or gird with a belt," from belt (n.). Meaning "to thrash as with a belt" is 1640s; general sense of "to hit, thrash" is attested from 1838. Colloquial meaning "to sing or speak vigorously" is from 1949. Related: Belted; belting. Hence (from the "thrash with a belt" sense) the noun meaning "a blow or stroke" (1899).



Old English belt "belt, girdle," from Proto-Germanic *baltjaz (cf. Old High German balz, Old Norse balti, Swedish bälte), an early Germanic borrowing from Latin balteus "girdle, sword belt," said by Varro to be an Etruscan word.

As a mark of rank or distinction, mid-14c.; references to boxing championship belts date from 1812. Mechanical sense is from 1795. Transferred sense of "broad stripe encircling something" is from 1660s. Below the belt "unfair" (1889) is from pugilism. To get something under (one's) belt is to get it into one's stomach. To tighten (one's) belt "endure privation" is from 1887.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for below the belt



A geographic region that is distinctive in a specific respect.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with below the belt


In addition to the idioms beginning with belt

  • belt down
  • belt out

also see:

  • below the belt
  • bible belt
  • sun belt
  • tighten one's belt
  • under one's belt
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.